Things 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.
Pro 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.