A while back I had a serious craving for lemon bars. It came completely out of left field. Jérôme makes an amazing lemon tart, and that has satisfied our lemony needs for the last few years. But I wanted a bar. Something that reminded me of my childhood but that was different and better at the same time. I had a lime and a few lemons, and knew that I wanted some coconut thrown in as well. This recipe from Bon Appétit was exactly what my taste buds were yearning for, and it turned out to be one of my most favorite desserts ever.
The fact that there are so few photos (and none that were “staged”) should be a testament to this bar’s awesomeness. All I wanted to do was eat it. I wasn’t thinking about the blog, wasn’t taking step-by-step photos, I was just whisking and baking and chowing down. The bar crust was fabulous: a rich hazelnut flavor and just crumbly and earthy enough to balance out the tart-sweet lemon lime filling. The “curd” part of the dessert came out of the oven with a lovely, eggy, crunchy crust on top which I found delightful on the smooth and creamy filling. The addition of coconut made this one a real winner for me. It basically combines all of my favorite flavors!
Hazelnut lemon-lime coconut bars
Adapted slightly from Bon Appétit
1 C ground hazelnuts (or whole hazelnuts run through a food processor)
1/4 C sugar
1 1/4 C flour
1/4 t salt
13 T butter (1 1/2 sticks + 1 T)
2 C sugar
3/4 C lemon-lime juice (one lime + 1-2 lemons)
1/3 C flour
A pinch of ground ginger
1 T finely grated lime or lemon peel
3/4 C toasted coconut
Preheat your oven to 350° and take out a 13×9 inch pan. Throw the ground hazelnuts, flour, and salt into a food processor or stand mixer with paddle attachment and pulse to combine. Add your butter and pulse/mix until a dough forms. No need to roll this dough out; simply press it into the bottom of your pan, making sure that it ends up as even as you can make it. It’s OK if the crust is thick (my bars had nearly as much crust as filling). Bake the crust until it’s golden brown and cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Whisk the sugar and eggs aggressively in a large bowl until you have a nice, frothy, well-blended mixture (this can easily be done by hand). The frothiness is what will make the light crust on top of the curd once it bakes. Add the citrus juice and zest, as well as the flour and ginger, and whisk to combine. Pour into the prepared crust (be careful, if the pan is too hot the filling will burn!) and bake for 25 minutes longer. At this point, you can add on the toasted coconut. Bake for about 10 minutes longer, or until the filling is set. Let the pan cool slightly before placing it in the fridge to chill before eating. Remove bars from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.