Lemon Coconut Shortbread Bars
“What are we baking today, mommy?” asks Killian, my five year old, reaching for the canister of powdered sugar, spilling some on the counter. A sweet white cloud fills the air, making him sneeze, and then giggle profusely. To my boys, helping in the kitchen equates to ample opportunities to sneak batter behind my back, and then mysteriously disappear when it’s time to clean up.
I can’t blame them, I did the same thing when I was little. I was always in the kitchen when my mom was baking. I stalked the counters, like a tiny great white shark, just waiting for my mom to turn her back, then I’d strike, grabbing whatever sweet morsel I could. But, in those mischevious moments, I also learned the way of the kitchen. I learned about ingredients, flavors, how to properly crack an egg, the importance of creaming butter and sugar. So, even with the mess and sticky fingers, I welcome the presence of my boys in the kitchen, because I know they’re learning valuable life skills. They’re learning to bake.
In these moments, I want their learnings to be beneficial. In our home, baking is an everyday occurrence, it’s my occupation. With sugar in every recipe, I want them to learn balance, that it’s possible to make an indulgence healthy, without sacrificing flavor. This is why, as a mother and baker, I use Kodiak Cakes.
I use Kodiak Cakes All-Purpose Baking Mix for so many things, from pancakes to granola bars. It’s a staple in my pantry. Made with whole grains, the mix is versatile and the flavor is rich and nutty. It’s packed with a whopping 12 grams of protein per serving, it’s non GMO, and loaded with fiber. The ingredients are simple, as they should be, making it the perfect healthy indulgence.
Today, we’re using Kodiak Cakes All-Purpose Baking Mix as the base to my Lemon Coconut Shortbread Bars.
These old fashioned lemon bars are a favorite in my house. You cannot eat just one. The crust is buttery, lightly sweet, and has a delicate crumble that melts in your mouth. You’d never guess it was good for you. The filling is rich and creamy, with a bright lemony finish that will make you pucker up and smile. The addition of toasted coconut to the crust adds a lovely texture and island flavor, which reminds us of Hawaii. Make these on a cold, snowy day. I promise you’ll feel instant sunshine. Just ask my boys, whose sticky faces and fingers say it all.
Lemon Coconut Shortbread Bars
* Makes about 18 bars
Coconut Shortbread Crust
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted (I used unsweetened coconut)
a pinch of kosher or sea salt
extra powdered sugar and toasted coconut for sprinkling
Make the crust:
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan and line with parchment paper. Allow the parchment paper to hang over the edge the pan. This lets you pull the bars out easily after baking.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter for about 1 minute to soften. Add the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the Kodiak Cakes All-Purpose Baking mix. Mix on medium speed till the dough comes together, forming heavy crumbs.
Stir in toasted coconut.
Using your fingers or a rubber spatula, firmly press the dough into the prepared pan, spreading evenly to coat the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes, till lightly browned. Set aside to cool as you make the filling.
4 extra large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 heaping tablespoon fresh lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
2/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/3 cup whole milk
Make the filling:
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs lightly.
Add the sugar, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, and milk. Mix on medium speed till well combined.
Pour the lemon filling over the crust, spreading evenly with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, till the center is set.
Place on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, cut into bars. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and toasted coconut.
Bars will keep for 1 week, kept chilled, in an air tight container.