Friday, February 17, 2012

Oatmeal Coconut Berry Bars

Bar cookies are phenomenal. They’re chewy and moist and super easy to prepare. The mixing and layering are usually pretty forgiving, so there are endless combinations of ingredients to play with, which means you can usually wind up with something that’s totally in your wheelhouse.

I happened to have some coconut left over from another project and remembered that I wanted to try a recipe for a bar cookie from Gourmet. It has oats and coconut in the base and topping, which adds to the flavor and texture, along with a layer of fruit jam. I loved the basic idea but I wound up completely revising the recipe because I didn’t want quite so much coconut and I wanted something less sweet. I also added some leavening and vanilla to the dough and changed the size of the baking pan, as well as baking time and temperature.

This particular combination of ingredients produces very good results from a few simple ingredients. The cookies seemed to vanish as soon as they cooled, always a good sign of success.

Bench notes:

- The original recipe called for baking the bars in a 9” x 13” pan at 375 degrees. I made them in a 9” square pan because I wanted a thicker bar. I also lowered the temperature and baked them at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
- I used less coconut and I cut back on the sugar by half, using equal parts brown and granulated sugar, and thought they were plenty sweet.
- Some of the coconut is toasted and mixed into the dough. The rest of the coconut is sprinkled on top and is left untoasted. Coconut toasts quickly in just a very few minutes and can burn in a blink of an eye, so keep a very close eye on it.
- I used homemade blackberry jam and sprinkled fresh raspberries on top of that. I really loved how the fresh berries brightened the flavor with a touch of acidity.
- I think any sort of your favorite fruit jam would be a good substitute as long as it’s a natural brand that isn’t too sweet.
- One of my favorite bar cookies is Fig & Chocolate Oatmeal Bars.

Oatmeal Coconut Berry Bars

based on a recipe from Gourmet
Makes 16 bars

1 C sweetened shredded coconut, divided
1 1/4 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 C dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C old fashioned oats
6 oz (12 T) cold butter, cut into pieces
1 t vanilla
generous 1/2 C raspberry or blackberry jam
1/2 C fresh raspberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 9” square pan and line with a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang along two sides of the pan.

Spread 3/4 cup coconut evenly on a baking sheet and toast until light golden brown, about 4 – 6 minutes. Keep a very close eye on it because coconut can burn very quickly. Stir as it toasts if it looks like it’s not browning evenly. Cool.

Place flour, baking powder, sugars and salt in a food processor and process to blend. Add oats and toasted coconut and pulse a few times to combine. Add butter and vanilla and process until a dough begins to form.

Press 2/3 of the dough firmly and evenly into bottom of the prepared pan. Spread a layer of jam over the dough (and distribute fresh raspberries over the jam, if using). Crumble the reserved dough evenly over the fruit layer, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 C untoasted coconut, pressing down gently to secure.

Bake until light golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edges and, using the parchment paper overhang, lift gently to remove. Cut into squares.


Anonymous said...

Yum! I love anything with coconut:)

vanillasugarblog said...

oh i've been on a coconut kick lately, so let's add these to the list shall we?

Kate said...

I like your recipe tweaks! I always cut the sugar in all my baking too. I have some homemade backyard grown sour cherry jam calling out from the pantry ;-) Thicker bars sound great too - although that does mean less cookie consumption!
Thank you for another great cookie recipe to try!

pastry studio said...

Coconut is a funny thing. People seem to either love it or hate it. I've only recently discovered how much I enjoy it. Glad to hear there are some fans among my readers.

Mmmmmm, homemade sour cherry jam!!

Beth said...

Love coconut! This looks amazing. Too bad I gave up sweets for Lent...but I'll need something for Easter dinner and this could be it.