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Know what makes me sad? It makes me sad that so many people aren’t big fans of coconut. I love the sweet taste, which makes me think about days at the beach. I’m drawn to recipes where coconut, sweetened or unsweetened, is one of the main ingredients but I’ve held back from baking them because of dislikes. I mean, I’d love to polish off a batch of coconut muffins or cupcakes by myself, but that probably won’t help me look good in the bridesmaid dress I’ll be wearing in October.

I was thrilled when I had the chance to make these coconut macadamia nut bars, a last minute dessert for a recent Wine & Cheese Party (read about it later this week) and for a last minute Easter invitation. As a bonus, I miraculously had all ingredients on hand and was able to skip the grocery store. Between the two events, I had no leftovers and one recipe request. I consider that a coconut success!

Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars

Adapted from The Mixer Bible (p. 278)

Makes a 9 x 13 inch pan

Ingredients for the Shortbread Crust:

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Ingredients for the Coconut Macadamia Nut Topping:

  • 1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. whipping cream
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 2/3 c. shredded/flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/3 c. macadamia nuts, halves or chopped into large pieces

Instructions:

  1. Prep: Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil so that there is an inch or two overhang on either end. Grease the lining and set aside.
  2. Make the Shortbread: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all ingredients on medium-low speed (#4) until dough starts to come together. Turn out into prepared pan, and press into an even layer along the bottom. Bake for 18-25 minutes until pale golden. Move to a wire rack to cool slightly and lower heat to 325F.
  3. Make the Coconut Macadamia Nut Topping: In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed (#4), combine brown sugar, melted butter, whipping cream, salt, and lemon juice. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in coconut and macadamia nuts. Pour onto prepared shortbread crust. Gently (because the crust is still soft) spread the topping so that most of the shortbread is covered (it will settle a little and fill in small holes that might be lacking topping). Bake for 35-45 minutes, until top is golden and bubbling. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars.
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