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Coconut Cream Bars

The custard-filled crust can be refrigerated for up to two days. Wait until just before serving to cut the dessert into bars; if crumbs and filling stick to the knife, wipe the blade clean between slices. Then decorate each bar with whipped cream. If you don't have a pastry bag, use a re-sealable plastic bag with a corner cut off.

  • Yield: Makes 2 dozen
Coconut Cream Bars

Photography: Tina Rupp

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2004


  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 boxes (5.3 ounces each) shortbread cookies, coarsely broken
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring once or twice, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Leave oven on.

  2. Process cookies and 1/2 cup coconut in a food processor until finely ground and mixture begins to clump together, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet; press into an even layer on bottom. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack.

  3. Whisk together the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk in milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil, 5 to 6 minutes. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Add butter, whisking until combined. Stir in 1 1/2 cups coconut.

  4. Spoon the custard onto cooled crust; smooth top with an offset spatula. Press plastic wrap directly onto custard surface, to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

  5. Beat cream and confectioners' sugar in a large chilled stainless-steel bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

  6. Cut custard-filled crust into 24 bars (each about 3 by 1 1/2 inches). Transfer to a platter. Spoon whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Beginning at one corner, pipe a zigzag pattern over each bar. Sprinkle bars with remaining 1/2 cup coconut.

Reviews (15)

  • tourtes 28 Feb, 2011

    @cynat...thank you I didnt know they had lactose free whole milk and cream...will have to go see at my local supermarket!

  • MagicMirror 28 Feb, 2011

    Debbie, it says to use a 9-by-13 inch rimmed baking sheet, not a pan. A jelly roll, or half sheet would probably result in the crust being too thin.

  • DebbieDurham 27 Feb, 2011

    Recipe says use 9 x 13 inch pan, but the picture looks like a cookie sheet or 11 x 15 or jelly roll pan - they have so many names for baking pans. Has any one made these? If so - what size pan do you recommend? They look wonderful, can't wait to try them (just as they are!) Ladies - PLEASE QUIT TRYING TO CHANGE EVERYTHING AROUND! You are just wasting your ingredients!

  • kimlin 27 Feb, 2011

    Kershaw, I once had a fantastic vegan coconut cream pie, and I was told that the recipe came from the book Tofu Cookery, by Louise Hagler.

  • kershaw 27 Feb, 2011

    Thanks, Anarie, I'll check it out. Anyone have a pie like this using tofu? That would be nice, and full of protein, not calories.

  • humus 27 Feb, 2011

    I am going to make these since we love coconut cream pie. I think this crust will be great but I want to try putting meringue on top vs whip cream. Thanks for this recipe MS.

  • Anarie 27 Feb, 2011

    Kershaw, try At MSO you'll find some fruit-based desserts and such that are naturally healthier, but they don't do "light" versions of their richer desserts. CL does a good job of trimming down recipes as far as you can go without completely sacrificing the enjoyment factor.

    And anybody can eat like this OCCASIONALLY! You have the choice between making your absolute favorites once in a blue moon, or finding healthier recipes that aren't quite as tasty to make more often.

  • Anarie 27 Feb, 2011

    Kershaw, try Cookighli

  • kershaw 27 Feb, 2011

    Who can eat like this anymore? Any ideas for slimming this down for the over-50 crowd? Cholesterol and such, you know...

  • mdklawok 27 Feb, 2011

    Do you think this could be made in to a pie using an already prepared shortbread crust?

  • rock63roll64 27 Feb, 2011


  • cynat 27 Feb, 2011

    Try using lactose free whole milk and cream. Most grocery stores carry a few different brands and they seem to work well for for me. Hope that helps.

  • tourtes 27 Feb, 2011

    Is there a lactose free recipe....what would I substitute for the whole milk and cream?

  • mandlmom 2 May, 2009

    AWESOME!!! Tastes just like the coconut cream pie my mom used to make. She lost the recipe so I'm very glad to have found this recipe. THANK YOU!!!!!

  • carabau 30 Apr, 2009

    I'll try these with lemon juice mixed into the custard. Yum!

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