Today is “Hump day” and I have a special treat for you that will brighten up your spirits all the way to the weekend! Lemon Coconut Bars! They are irresistible! I almost named them “Irresistible Lemon Coconut Bars”- A fresh tangy lemon and coconut custard filling with a sweet & salty almond crust is irresistible!
This is a recipe from my cookbook Deliciously Southern. It has been one of the most popular recipes in the cookbook.
There are so many ways to enjoy these Lemon Coconut Bars. Sometimes I cut them into large squares, and if I want to get real fancy and serve them for a ladies tea or a bridal shower, I cut them into tiny delicate bites and put them in white paper soufflé cups. I garnish them with a dusting of powdered sugar and a slice of lemon. They are simply beautiful! That’s the true blue Southern girl coming out in me.
Lemon bars are a big deal in the South. There are so many versions. I think I have eaten every single one. Some are too lemony, some aren’t lemony enough, and some are too sweet or not sweet enough. But this recipe has just the right amount of EVERYTHING! I know you will agree once you have taken a bite.
Now let’s get started making these yummy bars. We start with the crust and it’s divine. A mixture of flour, confectioners’ sugar, butter and ½ cup lightly toasted slivered almonds. The almond’s gives the crust a nice crunching texture and it helps to balance out the sweetness.
Next is the Lemon Chess Filling. The ingredients in the filling are 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, melted butter, milk, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, a little flour, salt, cornmeal and flaked coconut. Cornmeal may have gotten your attention. Using cornmeal in pies or custards is an old fashioned ingredient that Southern women have used for hundreds of years. If you use cornmeal in a pie or filling, it is called a chess pie or chess filling. Cornmeal helps thicken it perfectly, and it gives your pie or custard a wonderful texture.
The crust mixture is pressed down into a greased baking dish or line your baking dish with parchment paper and baked for just a short time in the oven or until it’s lightly browned.
The filling mixture is poured over the baked crust and baked for about 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. The bars will have a nice light golden brown crust on top. Sprinkle lightly with sifted confectioners’ sugar and garnish with fresh lemon slices, if desired.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- ½ cup chopped slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tablespoons cornmeal
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- Garnish, fresh lemon slices
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. For the crust, combine flour and ½ cup confectioners’ sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly; stir in almonds.
- Firmly press crust dough mixture into a lightly grease 13 x 9-inch pan or the baking pan with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown.
- While crust in baking, make the filling. In medium size mixing bowl, beat granulated sugar and eggs until smooth. Add melted butter, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, flour, cornmeal, salt and flaked coconut.
- Pour filling over baked crust. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is set. Cool pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with the remaining confectioners’ sugar, and cut into bars. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.
Do ahead tip/Freeze: Cooked bars will keep up to 7 days in an airtight container. Keep in a cool place. Cooked bars will freeze up to 2 months. If freezing, place bars in a freezer bag and place them in a sealed airtight container. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.