Oh sure, everyone makes lemon bars, but not like this. Not with a coconut crust that is chewy and dense with toasted coconut. Not with a lemon center so chock full of creamy lemon flavor you'll be tempted to pucker your lips - but don't waste your energy on puckering, save it all for chewing, swallowing, lip-licking and savoring every crumb of these delicious bars.
Before I get to the bars, let me tell you about my recent adventure on eBay. A few weeks back a friend and I hit the neighborhood garage sales. We both spied this beautiful sitar...she was thinking of buying it as a "conversation piece" for her office and for $25 she would have gotten a lot of talking for her money. But she passed on the sitar so I bought it...thinking it would be a great additon to my "eclectic collection" of musical instruments, alongside the accordion and the kazoo. The lady who sold it to me said she purchased it from an Indian college chum 25 years ago and it needed some strings...that was all she knew about it, aside from the metal tag that said it was made in India. Well, this beautiful instrument sat in my house for a week and then I decided it didn't quite fit with the accordion and the kazoo...so I listed it on eBay...after 5 minutes worth of research. I'm not sure why I decided to list it for $200 plus $75 shipping but it seemed fair and I really had no idea of its worth. Ten days later, after SEVEN inquiries, I had sold the sitar for $275 and I was thrilled...what a tidy little profit I made! When I went to ship it, I stopped into the music store next to the UPS store...where I was told the sitar was probably worth between $800 and $900...and then more good news...the UPS store informed me shipping would cost $120! So, while I still made a profit ($155) and was happy, I could have been happier! On the flip side, the guy who bought the sitar got a GREAT deal!
Moral of the story: 5 minutes of research is not quite enough.
One of the other great finds I made at the garage sales was a stack of old Bon Appetite magazines. I love reading about food almost as much as eating it and this recipe went to the top of the "make" list as soon as I saw it. IF you have summer where you live, these are the perfect accompaniment to any summer fete...IF, like me, you're still waiting for summer (it arrives in the Northwest on July 5th) then this will tide you over until it does, finally, arrive. 5 dangs on the Dang Meter...count one for every bite, as in "dang this is good," and "dang, this is soooo good, " and "dang, this is SO dang good..." you get the idea.
Lemon-Coconut Bars - Bon Appetite, April 2004
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted, cooled
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup powdered sugar
For Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (To toast coconut, spread evenly on rimmed baking sheet and put in 350 degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes, watching carefully so it doesn't burn. Remove and let cool.) Line an 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving overhang. Butter foil. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add toasted coconut and butter; process until mixture resembles fine meal and begins to clump together. Gather dough into ball. Press dough evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until golden at edges, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare filling: Combine 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, lemon juice, lemon peel, flour, baking powder and salt in processor. Blend filling until smooth.
Remove crust from oven. Pour filling evenly over hot crust. Return to oven and bake until filling begins to brown at edges and is just set and springy to touch in center, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to rack; cool lemon bars completely before removing them from pan.
Using foil as aid, transfer lemon bars to work surface. Flatten foil edges. Cut into 16 bars. Sift powdered sugar over tops. (Can be made 5 days ahead, store in airtight container in single layer.)
Lemon-Coconut bars make a wonderful gift...who wouldn't want these?!?