Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pecan-Crusted, Coconut-Topped Lemon Bars

Pecan-Crusted Coconut-Topped Lemon Bars - made April 12, 2013, recipe adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

I don't often try new lemon bar recipes since I already have one that I like but they're one of the desserts I'm asked for most often and when I get tired of making the same recipe, my recipe ADD tendencies kick in and I go sniffing around for a new one to try.  I needed these for a family picnic but wanted to kick things up a notch from the typical lemon bar.  I was still smarting from overbaking the Lemon Coconut Blondies so I wanted redemption.  I modified this recipe from Alice Medrich, using her crust recipe but making the lemon layer more in line with my tried and true lemon bar recipe.  Then going the extra pound mile with a lemon royal icing glaze sprinkled with toasted coconut.

Oh my. This may be one of my favorite versions of lemon bars.  You may want to double the recipe below and bake in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Yep, they were that good.  I'm normally not an advocate of nuts in baked goods but chopped toasted pecans in the crust was an inspired touch (thank you Alice Medrich). Don't cheat and not toast the nuts or you won't get that good toasted flavor.  I made several desserts for our family gathering (to follow in the next couple of posts) but I think these were the hands-down winner amongst my relatives.  It got the highest accolade not just from my parents but also my aunt and uncle: "it's not too sweet".  High praise indeed.

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted nuts (I used toasted pecans but you can also use hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, etc)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (please don't use that bottled stuff, you want a real lemon for optimal flavor)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, just enough to make the glaze a runny consistency
1/2 cup toasted coconut
  1. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the crust: Place the flour, sugar, salt and nuts in a food processor.  Pulse until the nuts are finely ground.  Add the melted butter and vanilla and pulse just until the dry ingredients look damp and the mixture begins to clump around the blade.  Remove the dough and knead it a couple of times to be sure it is evenly mixed.
  3. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is fully baked, well browned at the edges and golden brown in the center.
  4. For the topping: Whisk sugar, flour and baking powder together.  Add eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice, whisking until smooth.  Pour over hot crust and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until the topping no longer jiggles when the pan is tapped.  Set on a rack to cool completely in the pan.
  5. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, whisking until smooth.  Pour evenly over baked lemon bars and sprinkle with toasted coconut.  Let glaze set and lemon bars cool completely before cutting.
And for your viewing pleasure, some of the other food we had at the family gathering:

My uncle caught this fish - 25 inches and 9 pounds - it was tremendously delicious

My mom's BBQ ribs - they were the first to go

My cousin's fried rice

My cousin's chicken satay skewers - always a favorite


  1. I don't have a food processor, would it be a mistake to try to make the crust using a magic bullet?

    1. I don't have a magic bullet but as I understand how it works, I don't think I would advise it. Instead, you can mix in an electric mixer or mix it by hand. Use a grinder if you have one to grind the nuts or else just chop them fine.