Lemon Coconut Shortbread Bars

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Easy dessert of lemon coconut shortbread bars for a casual nibble or throw in the picnic basket.

Lemon coconut shortbread bars, easy entertaining, picnic, kid-friendly, recipe

Yes, I know I promised another recipe for my Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes next. But I’ve been thinking about posting desserts on Fridays, and here we are at Friday already. I swear yesterday was Monday, but somehow I slammed through TuesdayWednesdayThursday in the time it takes to make an omelet.

When I was in school, Friday was dessert day. It was one of the only days we weren’t on a strict schedule with dishes due up at specific times for judging.  Instead, Fridays were spread out like a blanket for a picnic, and the pace was, relatively speaking, more leisurely with excited chatter in the kitchen sprinkled with plans for the upcoming weekend.

Each Friday had a focus. We might all make a variety of custard dishes one week, and candies the next. Piping meringues to make baskets for strawberries was a very fun day; my first attempt at constructing and decorating a sad-looking Princess cake a little less successful. At the end of the day, our projects were placed on a long wooden table to loud swoons. Finally, soaring on a sugar high from all the tasting, we split up the desserts to share (or hoard) over the weekend. For me, it was a great way to end a stressful week of trying to keep up with all the students who were soooo much younger than I.

Ever since, Fridays conjure up images of dessert. And it’s so practical, when you rationalize think about it. It gets you all set up for any weekend plans you might have with friends and family, or just by yourself.  So I’m kicking off this little Friday Desserts series with these little lemon shortbread bars. They’re a great ending for a casual dinner or BBQ, or the perfect addition to a picnic you might have planned for this holiday weekend. If you don’t want them right away, just cut them into squares and freeze them. When you’re ready to eat one, or all of them,  just thaw on the counter for 30 minutes, or zap in the microwave for 20 seconds (depending on the strength of your microwave).

Tomorrow, without fail, I promise to post another recipe for my Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes. But for today, I just want to relax with these little lemon treats and a great book I’m reading.

Cook’s Notes:

  • The recipe calls for baking the base first, but I’ve done it several times now without doing it. The consistency is a little more tender if you don’t do a little prebaking, but it will definitely work.
  • I added 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves sprinkled over the lemon curd in my recent versions, with great success.
  • The best way to know it’s done is to watch for a slight darkening of the crust around the edges. When that happens, I pull it from the oven. It will firm up as it cools. I don’t remove the bars from the pan until they cool. This helps to retain their shape.
  • It might not seem that there’s a great deal of coconut oil in the recipe, but the lemon and thyme is very easily overwhelmed by the coconut flavor, and I was looking for a hint of coconut while allowing the lemon to shine through.
  • I used a jar of lemon curd for this recipe, but you can absolutely make your own!

I hope you enjoy these, and have a wonderful holiday weekend!!

Lemon-Coconut Shortbread Bars
Shortbread Base
  • 3 ounces (6 Tbsp) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 ounce coconut oil (or butter, if you prefer)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp rice flour
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
Lemon Filling
  • ⅓ cup of your favorite lemon curd (I cheat and buy mine!)
Shortbread Topping
  • 2 ounces (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ Tbsp rice flour
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  1. Line an 8″ X 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Combine all of the Shortbread Base ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade. Pulse until it comes together into a ball of dough. Alternatively, use a mixer do by hand using a pastry blender.
  3. Place the dough in the baking pan and flatten to evenly cover the bottom, working the dough quickly with your fingers. If the dough begins to get sticky, lightly flour your fingers and rework. If the dough becomes too soft to work with, place it all in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  4. Dock the dough but punching it with the tines of a fork about 20 times. There will be a lot of fork holes all over the dough, which will keep it from bubbling up during baking.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or just starting to firm on the edges, while you mix together the ingredients for the Shortbread Topping. Wrap the Shortbread Topping in plastic and place in the refrigerator.
  6. Once the Shortbread Base has cooled, spread the lemon curd evenly across the top.
  7. Remove the Shortbread Topping from the refrigerator and tear into pieces. Flatten the pieces with the heel of your hand on a workspace. Scrape up the pieces and lay on top of the lemon curd. It’s fine to overlap in places, and leave little openings to allow the curd to ooze through during baking.
  8. Increase the oven temperature to 375˚ F, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.
  9. Cool slightly in the pan before removing. This is a very tender cookie bar, and will harden slightly during cooling, making it easy to handle.


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