Saturday, June 2, 2018

Second-Stab Saturday: Lemon-Coconut Treats with everything in them

The last time we made Lemon-Coconut Treats, we bowed to the preference of others and left out the coconut. And while they were really good, they also were missing half the ingredients named in the title. We at A Book of Cookrye couldn't help wondering what they might taste like if we actually followed the recipe.

That's right, so very soon after making these the first time, we're making them again! That alone should tell you how good these were.

Lemon-Coconut Treats

    1½ c flour
    1½ c brown sugar
    ½ c butter or margarine
Heat oven to 275°. Grease a 9"x13" pan. We really recommend lining the pan, either with parchment on the bottom, or with foil on the bottom and sides.
Mix flour and sugar, then cream with the butter. Pat into pan, and bake 10 minutes. Increase oven heat to 350° when you remove the pan.

    2 eggs
    1 c packed brown sugar
    1½ c grated coconut
    1 c chopped nuts (if desired)
    ½ tsp baking powder
    ¼ tsp salt
    ½ tsp vanilla
Stir together the sugar, baking powder, salt, and flour, making sure there are no flour lumps. Mix in eggs, and beat thoroughly. Add everything else. Spread on top of the crust (you may find it easier to tilt the pan than to try to use a spoon without gouging the crust), and bake for 20 minutes at 350°.

    1 c powdered sugar
    1 tbsp melted butter or margarine
    Juice of 1 lemon
While the bars are baking, whisk together the icing ingredients. Spread over the bars while they are warm (it may be easier to just tilt the pan around until all is covered than to try to use a spatula or knife).
Cut while warm, about 10-15 minutes after removing from the oven.

Source: Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts, 1968 (submitter: Mrs. Robert T Brown, Sr. of Brookville, MD- blue ribbon winner of Montgomery County Fair)

Oddly, these didn't look the same as the first time we made them. You know how the crust was like Play-Doh? Or, to make a more edible comparison, exactly like slice-and-bake dough if you let it get too warm to slice? Well, this time it was like crumbly sand.

It looked fine after we pressed it flat, but this had us seriously doubting whether this recipe would work. And even though the crust contains only three ingredients, we kept re-checking the recipe to see if we might have forgotten something.
However, this is exactly what the recipe said to do. How one can take the exact same recipe and get this dry-looking stuff one day and something like this another time is a mystery.

Well, that's the crust, which hopefully will come out all right! Why not move on to the actual coconut layer?
Now, we at A Book of Cookrye have often dissertated on our dislike of nuts in cakes and brownies. But we couldn't help to wonder: was Mrs. Robert T Brown, Senior on to something when she put them in? After all, she won a blue ribbon. But we didn't like huge nut pieces in these, so our dear kitchen friend was once again brought in to help.

I do so love that meat grinder. I never thought I'd use it as much as I have. Right- onward to the coconut! And this recipe uses a lot of it.

As I was dumping the coconut out of the bag and into the batter, it occurred to me: I've never actually eaten a fresh coconut. I adventurously bought one once, and once we busted it open, the inside was rancid. Does fresh coconut taste drastically different from the dried shreds?

Looks like we're making German chocolate cake, doesn't it?
Now, the first time we made this, this stuff was so runny, we merely dumped into the pan and could put it back in the oven. It appears that actually doing the recipe exactly(ish) as written means extra work. It was a bit tricky getting that stuff to lay flat in the pan without breaking the crust underneath or burning myself on the hot pan edges.

Now it really looks like German chocolate cake.

It came out of the oven looking like a sadly dried-out German chocolate cake. The tricky thing with recipes like this is there's no way (I know of) to tell if they're done baking or not. So you just have to hope that the timer's exactly right. But given how this recipe looks nothing like the last time we made it, how do we know that the baking times would stay the same?

It was very obvious that it would be impossible to actually spread the icing on this without mutilating the coconut stuff every time a spatula touched it. So we drizzled it all over the pan and then tilted the pan back and forth until the coverage was complete. You have to do this kind of fast, since the icing keeps sinking and soaking into all those little holes. We didn't manage to keep the icing even, but just go with it.

Don't judge the wobbly and crooked cutting lines. It's not because I always was terrible at cutting a straight line. I just wanted to have a variety of sizes so everyone can have as much lemon-coconut treat as they want.

As for the taste? Astonishingly good!

These are really rich. Unless you're making them for a lot of people, you might want to cut the recipe in half and get out a smaller pan. With that said, they are a lot sweeter than you'd think. Honestly, they use about the same amount of sugar and butter as a 9x13 cake (if not a little less, believe it or not), but somehow they taste like buttery candy. The finely chopped nuts add a really nice undertone to the flavor, and the thin layer of extra-tart lemon icing is a perfect complement to the sweetness underneath it. I've already been asked to make these again.


  1. Please keep up this spate of posting, because although I have very little interest in cooking, you have one of those writing voices that I would listen to you reading the phone book, if you understand me.

  2. In my experience, humidity is always the blame whenever dough comes out differently.

    It was nice and moist before, but now it's dry? Humidity.

    Is it suddenly way too sticky to work with? Humidity.

    Has it turned green and begun to talk? DEFINITELY humidity.

    1. My experience in baking class bears this out. And if humidity won't work, temperature is a good backup.