It’s been 48 hours since my return from Los Cabos, Mexico. I spent a week lounging, reading, watching the waves and (occasionally) drinking a frozen margarita poolside on the south end of Baja California. Between swimming and reading I took pictures, lots of pictures. As usual, organizing them is the part that takes time but I can’t wait to share with you the vistas I enjoyed. My husband and I didn’t explore much–we stayed the entire time in San Jose del Cabo (the sister city of Cabo San Lucas) but really, you would have had a hard time prying me away from the sand if you tried.
I’ll share more with you in an upcoming post.
When I returned home I was anxious to get back to the kitchen with one theme in mind: Mexican flavors. After a week of eating fresh guacamole, salsas, mangoes and tortillas made as requested you’d think I would have had enough but not so. I ordered chicken quesadillas one day and I was wowed by the flour tortillas. They were so fresh and so thin! I tend to avoid flour tortillas at home but the ones I tasted in Mexico were thin like crepes–outstanding. Of course I wanted the Mexican food fest to continue when I got home so I stocked up on limes, coconut, mangoes, avocados, jicama and corn yesterday and happily used them up in a couple of dishes today.
Here’s what I made with the shredded coconut and limes. A variation on one of my favorite desserts, the lemon bar, I gave this one a tropical spin. My favorite shortbread crust has pine nuts in it for added texture but I replaced them with lightly-toasted coconut here. The latter adds a slight nuttiness while the crust remains crumbly overall.
And if you’re a fan of limes, your lips will pucker with delight at the amount I added to the filling. 3/4 cup of fresh lime juice combined with the zest of two limes and reducing the sugar made for quite a tart filling but sweetening it just a little would be an easy adjustment. I even added more sweetened, shredded coconut as I whisked the mixture but rather than lending additional sweetness, it just gave the bars additional (pleasant) texture.
They’re pretty, too. Underneath the sprinkling of powdered sugar are green and white flecks suspended throughout the filling. I ate two bars while setting up these shots and my husband wolfed down four with a glass of milk after dinner. I had to deny him when he asked for more, so something tells me these won’t last long.
More on Mexico on my next post!
Coconut Lime Bars
- ***For the Crust***
- 6.8 ounces 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut (lightly toasted on the stove and cooled)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced small
- 4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- Cooking spray
- ***For the Filling***
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar this is for a tart filling. Use 3/4 cup for a sweeter sweet version
- 2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Zest of two limes
- 3/4 cup lime juice
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut (plus more for topping)
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat your oven to 350℉ and spray an 8x8 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
To prepare the crust: Place the flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, toasted coconut and salt in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to combine then add the butter and oil. Pulse 6-8 times until the mixture resembles the texture of coarse meal.
Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and press into the bottom and sides. Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Combine the granulated sugar, flour, lemon zest, eggs and coconut in a medium bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice, a little at a time at first to prevent lumps, until the mixture is smooth. When the crust is lightly browned, pour the filling into the baking pan.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325℉ and bake for about 20 minutes or until the filling is just set.
Remove from the oven, cool on a wire rack then refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the filling time to set properly. Dust with powdered sugar (and more shredded coconut if you wish) and cut into 16 1-inch squares.
This recipe is adapted from Best of Cooking Light 2013 recipe for lemon bars. I doubled the crust recipe, replaced the pine nuts with toasted coconut, used limes instead of lemons, increased the lime and zest amounts, reduced the sugar and added coconut flakes to the filling.