Sunday, November 2, 2014

Coconut Bars

A local medical association has a twice yearly book sale to raise money for medical field scholarships.  Despite the fact that I'm in danger of being crushed to death by my cookbook hoard, 9 books followed me home from the fall sale.  Most of them came from the clearance room, so my total cost was $11.50, with the big splurge of $5 for the Julia Child book.

Hors d'Oeuvre and Canapes by James Beard, Austrian Cooking & Baking by Gretel Beer, The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken, Eat Great, Lose Weight by Suzanne Somers, Homemade Cookies Cook Book from Better Homes and Gardens, The Way to Cook by Julia Child, Magic Chef Cooking, Lorain Cooking, Southern Plantation Cooking by Corinne Carlton Geer
Don't ridicule me for the Suzanne Somers book.  It violates my rule against diet books and she can be a little "out there" sometimes, but she knows tasty food.  I had copied a few recipes out of that book in the past, so I couldn't pass it up for a quarter.

Interestingly (to me, at least), the Magic Chef cookbook is a later edition of the Lorain cookbook beside it. From my brief searching, it looks like Lorain made oven regulators that were used on many different stove brands, much like my Chambers stove has a Robertshaw oven regulator.  I would guess at the time the Lorain book was  published (1928), temperature-regulated ovens were a modern marvel.

I wanted to justify adding more books by baking something from one of them for Sunday tea and crumpets.  Alas, I had a serious craving for these coconut bars and since I hadn't blogged about them before, I decided to go for it.

Cookies by Bess (1980) by Bess Hoffman

This book did come from one of the previous book sales, so that counts for something, right?  Right?  It has also become one of my favorite books for cookies and bars.  Bess Hoffman knew a good cookie!

These are really good, with a brown sugar shortbread base, topped with a gooey butterscotch/coconut filling that becomes brown and crisp on top. It's been a hit every time I have made it.

Chambers 90c stove range

Coconut Bars (Printable recipe)
from Cookies by Bess (1980) by Bess Hoffman

1 cup sifted flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped shredded coconut

For the crust: Sift together the flour, brown sugar and salt.  Cut in the butter.  Press  mixture into greased 8x8x2 inch pan.  Bake at 375F for 10 minutes.

For the topping: Beat eggs slightly; add sugar.  Add flour, soda and salt to eggs.  Fold in vanilla and coconut.  Spread evenly over hot baked crust.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer at the same temperature.  Cool and cut into squares.


  1. I swear I could smell that coconut bar just from looking at the photo. The recipe looks really good. I imagine a soft, chewy, toasted coconut flavor. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Your description is right on the money and makes me wish I had a few bars left!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Bess Hoffman was my grandmother - and she did know a good cookie! Fun to see that people are still using her book. It's my staple for baking cookies. She also collected old cookbooks - I inherited her collection and love looking at the recipes she marked and used. Thanks for making me think about my long-gone Grandma.

  4. Oh my goodness, thank you for posting, PSherm! I love your grandmother's cookbook. I let my mother borrow it once and had to fight her to get it back. Now she has several cookie recipes she makes regularly from your grandmother's collection.

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  6. She did pretty much what you are doing with the books - when she passed away I received well over a hundred old cookbooks, and she had marked the recipes she tried in each with comments.

    By the way, try the cinnamon logs. I believe that was a recipe she created - and they are amazingly good. My staple cookie to bring places.

    1. I will definitely try those! Thanks!

      I'm glad you took your grandmother's cookbook collection. When I come across old cookbooks for sale, I usually end up buying the most tattered, stained and written-in ones. I love seeing the notes left by previous cooks about which recipes were liked and which ones were not.

  7. I have these Coconut Bars in the oven right now! Thank you for a wonderful blog! I also collect and love cookbooks! I must find this cookie cookbook!

  8. This recipe is excellent!!! They are delicious! Thank you for sharing!