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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  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.

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