Chocolate Coconut Cream Bars

This recipe is a personal favorite of mine and I am so excited to share it with you! It’s a coconut cream pie in bar form. You have a shortbread crust on the bottom with chocolate ganache, coconut cream and whipped cream layered on top, then sprinkled with toasted coconut. It takes about an hour to assemble these bars, and then a few more hours in the fridge to set. Please don’t let the list of ingredients and steps scare you. These bars are well worth the wait!!  

Crust Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and cubed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Ganache Ingredients:
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoon heavy cream
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Coconut Cream Filling Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping Ingredients:
1 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons cold water (for stabilizing)
1/2 teaspoon gelatin (for stabilizing)
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut, toasted


(Makes 12-16 bars)
Shortbread Crust: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line an 8×8 or 7×9 pan with parchment paper. I use 2 sheets overlapping so I have parchment lining all sides of the pan. This helps to remove the bars from the pan once they have set. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and powdered sugar. Add the cold, cubed butter and cut into the flour mixture until the butter is evenly distributed and it resembles small crumbs (you can also do this step in your food processor). Pour mixture into your prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of your crust becomes golden. Remove and cool.

Toasted Coconut: With your oven still preheated to 350, spread 1/4 cup coconut flakes on to a baking sheet and place in the oven. Set your timer for 1-2 minutes and then stir the coconut. Repeat until your coconut is golden brown and toasted. Remove from oven, place toasted coconut in a bowl and set aside.

Ganache: In a medium bowl, place 6 ounces of chopped semi sweet chocolate. In a microwave safe measuring cup, heat the heavy cream in the microwave for 30 seconds (you want the cream to be hot). Pour hot cream over chocolate and let it sit for 2 min. Stir chocolate and cream until glossy and smooth. Pour chocolate ganache over the shortbread crust in an even layer. Place in the freezer to set and become firm.

Make coconut cream filling: In a medium pan, whisk together the half-and-half, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. While whisking constantly over med-low, slowly heat the mixture through. Once it becomes steamy, turn the heat up to med/med-high and bring to a boil. Once this mixture starts to boil it will thicken up pretty quickly. Make sure to whisk constantly while it is thickening to keep the cream from burning on the bottom of the pan and to keep your cream filling lump free. Once the cream has become thick and you can see whisk lines throughout as you stir, it is ready. This takes roughly 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the coconut and vanilla extract along with the un-toasted coconut flakes. Stir until combined.  Pour the cream filling over your ganache and chill for at least 2 hours.

Stabilized Whipped Cream*: Place a bowl and beaters into the freezer to chill. In a small bowl put 1 1/2 tsp cold water and sprinkle 1/2 tsp gelatin evenly over the top. Let it bloom for 2 minutes. Once the gelatin has been absorbed into the water, place in the microwave for 15 seconds then whisk to dissolve the gelatin. Using your chilled bowl and beater, beat 1 cup of heavy cream and powdered sugar together until the cream starts to thicken. Add the gelatin mixture, then continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over your bars and top with toasted coconut. Chill until ready to serve. When you are ready to cut your bars, run a knife between the parchment and your pan to loosen the bars. Then use the parchment to pull bars from the pan. Place on a cutting board and slice into squares with a sharp knife. Enjoy!!

*The gelatin and water added to the whipped cream helps keep the cream from becoming runny (stabilizing it). However, if you are serving these bars right away and do not plan on storing them in the fridge for more than a day or two, you can omit the water and gelatin.
Adapted from: Willow Bird Baking


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