Blackberry Coconut Bars

blackberry, bar, dessert, berry, newfoundland, egg, coconut, meringueThings have been very busy this time of year and I apologize for neglecting all my blog friends.  I want to make it up to you by giving you this quick and easy bar recipe that can be made in less than an hour.

One thing that I’ve relied on for years is cake mix.  There are so many different recipes out there using boxed cake mix as a base.  There are even a few books put forth by a woman calling herself the Cake Doctor.  She doctor’s cake mixes making wonderful bundt cakes, cookies and bars.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that book.

This recipe is adapted from one of hers.  If you’ve made some raspberry or blueberry jam from all the berries you’ve picked then this recipe will help you use some it up.  My brother and I used to go picking berries when we were youngsters and you can still find people selling buckets of berries on the side of the road in Newfoundland.  While it’s past berry picking season now, you must have made some jam with all the wonderful fresh berries picked.  Or you can use store bought jam, of course.  We had a friend give us some wonderful blackberry jam, so I thought that would go with the coconut flavours of this bar.

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Mix together the cake mix, melted butter and egg yolks.  The mix will be crumbly, but that’s okay.  Press the mixture into a greased 9X13 pan so you have an even layer reaching all the sides.  Bake this layer for 8-10 minutes until just browned.  Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on for later.  Place aside to cool.

In a clean mixing bowl, place the egg whites and start mixing with the whisk attachment.  You can also use a hand mixer.  I stress that the bowl should be spotless.  Any chance of fat in the bowl (like you used the same bowl to mix the cake layer – hello egg yolks), will cause your eggs whites to fall flat and you’ll never get to the stiff peak stage.  When the egg whites are a little frothy, add the cream of tartar.  Keep mixing on high while slowly sprinkling in the sugar.  You want to add the sugar gradually so you can incorporate lots of air into the egg whites, making them nice and fluffy.  Keep mixing until you have stiff peaks.  That means you can pull the beaters (or the whisk attachment) out of the egg whites and they will still form small white peaks without falling over.  If the whites are too soft, just whip a little longer.  Then fold in the ground coconut*.

Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, put the jam.  Microwave for 30-45 seconds; just enough for the jam to be spreadable.  Now spread it in a nice even layer on top of the baked cake layer.

Then spread the whipped egg white layer on top, but try not to mix it into the jam.  You want to spread everything evenly to all the edges.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.  Cut into 24 bars, or smaller if you want squares.

blackberry, bar, dessert, berry, newfoundland, egg, coconut, meringuePro tip: The egg whites should be room temperature.  They will whip up fluffier and easier.  If you keep your eggs in the fridge, then leave them on the counter for at least 30 minutes before you make this recipe.

*The toasted coconut should be finely ground.  I used my spice grinder, but if you don’t have one, just use your food processor.

Print Recipe
Blackberry Coconut Bars
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Cake layer
Jam layer
  • 1 1/2 cup fruit jam raspberry, strawberry, or your favourite
Meringue layer
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Cake layer
Jam layer
  • 1 1/2 cup fruit jam raspberry, strawberry, or your favourite
Meringue layer
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix together the cake mix, melted butter and egg yolks.  The mix will be crumbly, but that's okay.  Press the mixture into a greased 9X13 pan so you have an even layer reaching all the sides.  Bake this layer for 8-10 minutes until just browned.  Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on for later.  Place aside to cool.
  3. While the cake layer is baking you can mix your meringue layer. Using a clean bowl on your mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and set the mixer on high. Slowly sprinkle in the granulated sugar and whip until you have stiff peaks with the egg whites. Fold in the ground toasted coconut.
  4. Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, put the jam.  Microwave for 30-45 seconds; just enough for the jam to be spreadable.  Now spread it in a nice even layer on top of the baked cake layer.  
  5. Now spread the whipped egg white layer on top, but try not to mix it into the jam.  You want to spread everything evenly to all the edges.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.  Cut into 24 bars, or smaller if you want squares.  
Recipe Notes

You'll want toasted coconut for this recipe.  Just take some shredded coconut, place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet and broil on low for about a minute.  Keep an eye on this because you'll go from light brown to black in seconds.  Keep the pan a couple of inches from the broiler and watch it like a hawk.

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Lemon Partridgeberry Bars

lemon, meringue, partridge, berry, lingon, shortbread, dessert, bar, Dr. Oetker, Shirriff, mix, potluckCan you feel it?  The days are getting warmer and thoughts are turning to having a couple of months off for summer vacation from school, or going out to the lake for the weekend with family, or just hanging out on the patio with some good friends and good food.

As the days get warmer, I love experiencing the fresh tastes that becoming more seasonal.  A friend used to give me some of her Meyer lemons from her tree every year and I would whip up some tarts or squares.  Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter than the regular ones from the store.  A nice subtle lemon flavour.

This week I was asked to make some goodies for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  The request was for all things gold or yellow.  I immediately thought of lemon squares and prepared those.  They were a hit.  I then noticed that I still had a little leftover partrigeberry jam from the time I made the partridgeberry marshmallows.  I know that lemon goes well with raspberry and cranberry and partridgeberries have a similar flavour profile.  So why not?  The worst thing is that they will taste horrible and I’ll chuck them in the bin.

Luckily they tasted amazing.  I love the sweetness of the meringue topping, the tart lemon filling, and the amazing unique flavour of partrigeberries.  All piled on a crispy shortbread crust, you can’t go wrong.

Note:  This recipe uses a pre-packaged lemon pie filling mix.  Shocking, I know.  While I will try to make things from scratch,  I wanted to use this mix first because of its ease of use.  And I’ve always loved the Shirriff lemon pies.  I have not been compensated in any way by Shirriff or their parent company in any way.  (Although, if anyone from there is reading this, I wouldn’t mind some wonderful products, if you’re inclined.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more.)

Preheat your oven to 350F and line a 9X13 pan with parchment, making sure the parchment comes up the sides.  You’ll thank me later for this.

For the shortbread crust combine the flour and sugar.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture has the consistency of coarse bread crumbs.  I like to first start with the pastry cutter to get all the larger pieces of butter incorporated, but finish off with my hands.  (Clean, of course.)  That way I can feel for any larger pieces of butter which may have escaped the cutter.  Plus I can take in the lovely aroma of fresh butter mixing with the flour.  I don’t know why, but it’s one of the favourite baking smells.  You can use a food processor to do this, but use the pulse button until the butter is mixed in accordingly.

Now press the shortbread mixture in the bottom of the 9×13 pan until you form a nice, even layer.  It’s okay if you see flecks of butter still in the crumb.  Just make sure there isn’t any larger chunks.  Now bake the crust for 20-25 minutes.  The edges should be a little brown when you take it out.  While the crust is still warm add the layer of jam.  Use a spoon or an offset spatula to make sure you have an even layer of jam going all the way to the ends.  The heat from the crust with help spread the jam easily.  Set that aside.

Prepare the pie filling as the packaging suggests, EXCEPT reduce the warm water by one cup.   This recipe uses two packages of pie filling which calls for four cups of warm water.  I wanted the filling to be more firm so I reduced the water.  Once the filling is set, spread it on top of the jam layer.  It should be thick, and will set completely once it cools.

Now, preheat your oven to 425F.  Prepare the meringue topping with the egg whites left over.  (The yolks went into the lemon filling.)  Whip the whites until you have a soft peak, then add the sugar while it’s still mixing.  Whip until you have firm peaks.  Spread on top of the lemon filling.  You can make a nice design with the meringue or even pipe it with a rosette piping tip to give you the nice ridges.  Bake for 5-7 minutes to give the browning on top.  Keep and eye on it though.  Mine was done at 4 minutes, but you should know your oven.

This dessert is best made the day of, because the meringue has a tendency to sweat if left to sit for too long.  Place the pan in the fridge to cool for a couple of hours.  Once cool carefully remove the bars from the pan.  This is why I asked you leave some parchment over the sides.  This way you can lift the whole thing out of the pan and place on a board for cutting.  I cut the bars into 18 pieces but you could easily cut them smaller for bite-size morsels.  Enjoy with your favourite iced tea.

lemon, meringue, partridge, berry, lingon, shortbread, dessert, bar, Dr. Oetker, Shirriff, mix, potluck

Print Recipe
Lemon Partridgeberry Bars
A wonderful lemon flavour combined with partridgeberries. Amazing!
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Pie Filling
Meringue topping
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Pie Filling
Meringue topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a 9X13 pan with parchment, making sure the parchment comes up the sides.
  2. For the shortbread crust combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture has the consistency of coarse bread crumbs. You can use a food processor to do this, but use the pulse button until the butter is mixed in accordingly. Press into a nice even layer on the bottom of the 9x13 pan.
  3. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes. The edges should be a little brown when you take it out. While the crust is still warm add the layer of jam. Use a spoon or an offset spatula to make sure you have an even layer of jam going all the way to the ends. The heat from the crust with help spread the jam easily. Set that aside.
  4. Prepare the pie filling as the packaging suggests, EXCEPT reduce the warm water by one cup. This recipe uses two packages of pie filling which calls for four cups of warm water. Once the filling is set, spread it on top of the jam layer. It should be thick, and will set completely once it cools.
  5. Now, preheat your oven to 425F. Prepare the meringue topping with the egg whites left over. (The yolks went into the lemon filling.) Whip the whites until you have a soft peak, then add the sugar while it's still mixing. Whip until you have firm peaks. Spread on top of the lemon filling. You can make a nice design with the meringue or even pipe it with a rosette piping tip to give you the nice ridges. Bake for 5-7 minutes to give the browning on top.
  6. Let the lemon bars cool completely before cutting. Place in fridge for a couple of hours. Remove the bars from the pan and cut into squares.
Recipe Notes

Partridgeberry, or Lingonberry jam can be found in most Newfoundland stores, or your local Swedish furniture store.  Raspberry can be substituted as well.

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