I’ve had quite a few different coconut and lime bars. In fact, I never turn down a chance to try one because I’m such a fan of this flavor combination. These Layered Coconut and Lime Bars are a little outside of the box when compared to many other bars that are made using the same flavors because they have a meringue-like layer of coconut on top of a cakey lime base.
The base of the bars is a thin layer of cake that is extremely moist and tender, in addition to being full of a vibrant lime flavor. The lime comes from both fresh lime juice and plenty of lime zest. The zest is where most of the lime flavor comes in, but that extra juice contributes to the tenderness of the bars after baking. The topping is a meringue-like layer made with egg white, sugar and shredded coconut. There is just enough egg white in the topping to adhere the sugar to the coconut, and it also helps to give the topping a light, chewy texture after baking. It’s a lot like having a macaroon cookie on top of your bar – only a much less dense macaroon cookie than you usually find.
The topping is added part way through the baking time, since the coconut needs less time in the oven to brown than the base layer needs to cook. When you sprinkle it on top of the base, you might find that it collapses slightly. Don’t worry about this if it happens. The cake should be set enough that it won’t become too dense, even if it falls slightly under the weight of the topping. It will all come together beautifully when the bars are pulled out of the oven and cooled. They’re moist and tender, tart and sweet, crisp (on the very top) and chewy – and, of course, addictive for a coconut and lime fan like me.
Layered Coconut and Lime Bars
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp lime zest
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 large egg white
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar, egg and lime zest. Stir in half of the flour mixture.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine milk and lime juice. Mixture will curdle (this is ok – don’t worry). Add to large mixing bowl with melted butter mixture. Stir to combine. Stir in all remaining flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of flour remain visible. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the cake is very lightly browned.
While base is in the oven, prepare the topping. In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and sugar. Stir in the shredded coconut and vanilla extract. Mixture will be sticky. When the base is finished baking, break up the topping mixture with your fingers and sprinkle evenly over the base.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until coconut is golden brown. If you want the top of your bars to be extra toasted, turn on the broiler for 1 minute to brown just the top.
Allow bars to cool completely before slicing.
Makes 20 bars.