A snack that tastes great, is easy to make, but also freezes well is something that always comes in handy. Especially the freezing part, as that stops us from eating them all too quickly, which believe is very easy to do with these bars!
I made these because I wanted to use the coconut and cashews that were in the cupboard, and because I love these two flavours together.
The crust is a brown sugar shortbread, and the filling is chewy, gooey and full of caramel flavours. The nuts and coconut add crunch and their own unique flavours.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F and line a 10" X 10" square pan with foil. Lightly grease the foil.
To make the crust, combine the following in a food processor:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 ounces cold butter, cut into small cubes
Process until you have a fine, crumbly texture, as shown in the picture on the right.
Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place into the oven and bake until the crust is set and slightly golden, about 10 - 15 minutes.
Remove and set aside while you prepare the filling.
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup roughly chopped cashews
Scrape the filling onto the cooled crust, gently spreading it evenly.
Put the pan back into the oven and bake until the filling is set (firm to a gentle touch in the centre) and golden on top.
This took about 30 minutes in my oven.
Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool completely before carefully lifting the foil out of the pan. Peel the sides away from the bar and cut into whatever size you like! The bars can be dusted with icing sugar if you are serving them for something special, and presentation is important. Otherwise, dig in and enjoy!!!
- I really like the shortbread texture and taste of this crust, but if you wish to make it a bit thinner, simply freeze the excess for another time. An ideal thickness is about 1/2" or it will not hold up to the sticky filling.
- White sugar can be used instead of brown, but the toffee taste will be lost.
- The crust can be flavoured with the addition of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger. You can also add citrus zest. Finely ground Earl Grey tea, or instant coffee can be used too. The crust is a good basic bar or square base, and can be flavoured according to your filling.
- If you triple the recipe you can make an 18" X 24" sheet pan of bars.
- As with the crust, the amount of filling can be adjusted. This is a fairly thin layer, as it is quite sweet and rich. If you want a thicker layer of filling, double the recipe, and turn the oven temperature to 325F during baking so that the top and outside edges don't get too dark, as this size will take longer to bake.
- The nuts and coconut can be omitted, or replaced with dried fruit such as cranberries, chopped apricots or dates. Other nuts can also be used. Macadamia nuts and coconut are a great combination; chopped dates and walnuts are another option; mixed nuts or just lightly salted peanuts work well with the filling. If you must have chocolate, white or dark chocolate chips can be folded in.
- The filling can have other flavours such as grated fresh ginger, orange zest or almond extract added to it.
- The bars keep for 3 - 4 days, well wrapped in the fridge, or can be frozen.