Macadamia Coconut Lemon Bars

Macadamia Coconut Lemon Bars are the result of my first month of participation in the Cookie Carnival - A group of cookie loving food bloggers who test a new recipe each month and then blog about the experience and results.

Since I love cookies and writing about them, I decided I should give it a try.

This month's selection was a Toasted Almond Lemon Bars Recipe from the The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy - A baking book I am not familiar with, but that gets high ranks on Amazon.

Toasted Almond Lemon Bars are your basic lemon bars but with a couple of twists including a sliced almond enhanced crust and almond extract enhanced lemon filling. They sounded divine and such a great way to welcome spring!

However there was a problem…

Almonds are an evil allergen in our household!

My stepson Mac is seriously allergic.

So being resourceful, I decided to substitute macadamia nuts and omit the almond extract called for in the recipe. I also decided to add 3/4 cup coconut since lemon, coconut, and macadamia nuts just seemed to go together.

Since I am a bit of a cookie baking geek, the next step in my process was to compare and contrast several lemon bar recipes including Betty Crocker Coconut Lemon Bars and the Lemon Bars recipes in my favorite cookbook of the moment, Mom's Big Book of Cookies by Lauren Chattman.

One thing that popped out at me as I compared recipes was the large amount of butter (2 1/2 sticks) in the Sweet Melissa recipe. Now, I like butter as much as the next baker, but I also try to cut back where I can. I decided to reduce the butter to 2 sticks.

Next, I noticed that the Sweet Melissa lemon bars recipe included instructions for blind baking the crust. For those not familiar with the process of blind baking, it involves covering the crust with parchment or foil and then adding Ceramic Pie Weights or dry beans that you only use for this purpose before baking, then removing the weights and parchment/paper foil and baking a while longer.

I've read a lot of cookbooks and made several variations of yummy lemon bars and have never been instructed to blind bake the crust before.

Since my real passion is finding the easiest, most user-friendly path to delicious home baking (and I have an allergy to blind baking) I opted to skip this step. The crust turned out just fine. (Maybe not as perfect as Melissa's—but nobody I served them to will ever know the difference!)

The recipe instructs you to use a Food Processor to make the shortbread crust. This can be done by hand with a Pastry Blender.

I brought a plate of the Macadamia Coconut Lemon Bars to Easter Dinner with family and everyone loved them. The nuts in the crust added interest and they had the perfect sweet-tart contrast I love. This lemon bars recipe is a keeper in my baking files.

Macadamia Coconut Lemon Bars

Macadamia Coconut Lemon Bars

Macadamia Nut Coconut Lemon Bars Recipe

For the crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 cup toasted, chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

For the filling:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup coconut

For sprinkling on top:

  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  1. Position an oven rack in the middle of your oven and preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with foil that extends beyond the edges of the pan on at least two sides. (This will allow you to remove the slab of lemon bars from the pan so you can cut them evenly and make cleanup a lot easier.) Lightly spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. To make the crust pulse the flour, sugar, nuts, and salt in your food processor to combine. (Alternatively, whisk together in a large bowl.)
  4. Add the cold butter and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. (Alternatively use a pastry blender until the dough comes together.)
  5. Dump the dough into your prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides.
  6. If the dough seems real soft pop the pan into the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Otherwise place the crust in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.
  7. While the crust bakes, prepare your filling. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth.
  8. Add the flour and whisk until blended and smooth.
  9. Add the lemon juice and whisk until well combined.
  10. Stir in the coconut with a wooden spoon until it is well blended.
  11. Once the crust is golden, remove it from the oven and place it on a trivet or wire rack.
  12. Reduce your oven temperature to 325F degrees.
  13. Pour the prepared lemon mixture over the crust and bake for 30 minutes more or until filling is set and the bars are lightly golden.
  14. Remove pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  15. Remove the slab of lemon bars from the pan using the "foil handles."
  16. Peel away the foil.
  17. Cut into desired size and shape macadamia nut lemon bars.
  18. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving.

You can store your lemon bars at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

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