When I was planning my Christmas open house I wanted some kind of bar on the sweet tray, and these Cherry Coconut Bars, with their festive red cherries and snowy white coconut, seemed in keeping with the holiday theme.
I made these often when I was a teenager, and this was one of the recipes that I copied out for my recipe box in the months before I got married back in 19-never mind. Obviously I made it often afterwards, as you can tell from the much-used and spilled upon recipe card. I never said I was especially neat in the kitchen!
Somewhere along the line, this recipe disappeared from my repertoire. I place the blame entirely upon picky children (Offspring, are you reading this?). This one didn’t like cherries, that one didn’t want nuts, and I don’t think any of them would go near coconut. So, the card disappeared to the back of the box until December.
I’ve never thought of this as a Christmas recipe before, but the bars certainly looked pretty and seasonal along with the other holiday treats and they garnered numerous compliments. The shortcake base is rich, and the topping is delightfully chewy from the coconut. The nuts add crunch and the cherries bright flavour and festive flair.
Beware, these bars are very sweet, and if I were to make them again I would dial that down somewhat. As a first step, I would use unsweetened coconut instead of the sweetened variety that I, somewhat incomprehensively, used this time. I have to admit, I never thought a maraschino cherry would cross my threshold again, as I have a thing about food dyes and artificial flavours these days, but a little blast from the past can’t hurt, can it?
These bars were pure nostalgia for me, bringing back memories of baking in my mother’s kitchen back on the farm. From today’s vantage point, that seems like such a simple and innocent time.
What recipes have you made lately that take you back?
Cherry Coconut Bars
Source unknown. Pre-heat oven to 350º F. Prepare a 9″ x 9″ pan by buttering it. If you wish, you can then line it with parchment paper and then butter that as well (extending the paper slightly past the top of the pan makes it easy to lift the entire batch from the pan before slicing). You can see from the card that the original recipe calls for an 8″ square pan, but I often use a larger pan and reduce the baking time to compensate.
- 1 cup sifted flour
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
Mix until well incorporated. Spread and pat into the prepared pan and bake for about 15 minutes, or until set and lightly coloured.
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Stir the rest of the ingredients into the beaten eggs. Spread over top of the baked pastry base and bake another 22 to 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Let cool in the pan and then cut into bars the size of your choosing.