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Toasted coconut cookie bars

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

These bars bring a combination of toasted coconut, browned butter and white chocolate together for a chewy, buttery, coconut filled treat. The edges are caramelized and crispy, the bars have the perfect amount of sweetness - and if you're like me and you have a complicated relationship with coconut, I promise you will still fall in love with these bars.

I tested out the first round thinking I would add a glaze topping and was unsure if the end bar would incorporate white chocolate, but the white chocolate turned out to be the perfect compliment to the coconut flavor and I found we wouldn't need a glaze. One of my favorite restaurant desserts (the coconut cream pie at Del Frisco's Grille) combines coconut and white chocolate so I had a hunch it would work great here too. What round one didn't have was enough coconut flavor, so I knew I needed to increase the toasted coconut for the next round and it all came together for the perfect bite. We rely on unsweetened toasted coconut and a little bit of canned coconut milk for our coconut flavor, no added coconut extract, though if you want a more intense coconut flavor you could always try adding it.

To toast your unsweetened shredded coconut, I found it was easiest to do this on a nonstick pan on the stovetop over a medium heat. It takes just about 5 minutes and some stirring, and once you see the golden brown color you're ready to go. Also, if you make a little extra there are so many other uses for toasted coconut - like topping your yogurt or ice cream, or even to sprinkle over a frosted cupcake instead of sprinkles!

You'll just use a small amount of canned coconut milk for this recipe, so you can save the rest to use in another recipe - something savory like a chicken or rice dish, or even my coconut cupcakes if you're in the mood for another sweet recipe.

Since we want a true toasted and caramelized flavor for these bars, I also chose to go with browned butter. It's not always necessary, but in this case with lots of vanilla flavor, it brings such a great depth of nutty flavor that goes so well with the toasted coconut. I know it's an extra step, but it's one that's very worth it for this recipe. If you don't want to brown your butter or are short for time, you could use melted butter and the recipe will still work great.

For white chocolate, I love using Valrhona. Their white chocolate is incredibly creamy, and it comes in large disks that can be easily chopped. Guittard and Ghirardelli are also great if you're looking for a good quality white chocolate chip and want to avoid the chopping. You can of course skip the white chocolate, or I also want to try these with dark chocolate swapped in, but the white chocolate is a great compliment to the toasty coconut flavor.

When making any baked bar, the type of pan you use is really important. To get the most even bake and a chewy center, I recommend using a metal pan rather than glass (like this OXO pan). Just know if you use a glass pan that the bake time may vary and you could wind up with overcooked edges and an under baked center.


  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, browned 170g

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 144g

  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar 64g

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened, canned coconut milk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 180g

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut 84g

  • 1 cup (6 oz) chopped white chocolate (or chips)

Total time: About 3 hours including chill time

Prep time: Under 30 minutes

Bake time: 22-24 minutes

Chill time: 2 hours (1 prior to baking, 1 before soServings: 16 slicing)

Servings: 16


  • 9x9in square pan (or an 8x8 and increase the cook time a bit)

  • Spatula or large spoon

  • Parchment paper

  • Heavy bottomed nonstick pot (and a nonstick stovetop pan, or reuse the pot)

  • Large and medium bowl

Cooking instructions:

Prepare your butter and coconut. First, brown your butter. (note: if you plan to use the same pot to brown your butter and toast your coconut, toast your coconut first.) Place your butter in a nonstick heavy bottomed pot on the stovetop on a low to medium heat. After it melts, you'll hear it begin to crackle. Stir the melted butter and watch it carefully as it can burn easily. You'll start to smell a nutty aroma (you'll know it when it happens). Once you see the color turn to a light brown or amber, remove your pan from the heat and transfer your butter and all of the brown bits at the bottom into a large, heat proof bowl. Set aside to cool slightly.

Now toast your coconut. Over a medium heat, spread your coconut into an even layer. Continue to move it around the pan, mixing every so often to start and then continuously as it begins to visibly toast. It should take about 5 minutes in total to turn to a lightly toasted brown color. Reserve 2 tablespoons, and set the rest (3/4 cup) aside into a medium bowl.

Make your toasted coconut dough. To your browned butter, add in your sugars and mix or whisk together (you can use your spatula, spoon or a whisk) for about a minute or two until your mixture is smooth and combined.

Next, add in your canned coconut milk (make sure you shake or mix it before measuring) and vanilla extract. Continue to mix together until smooth. Then, add in your two egg yolks. Continue to mix until fully combined and thickened.

In your medium bowl with 3/4 cup toasted coconut, add your remaining dry ingredients and mix to combine - all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then, add into your wet ingredients and fold together until your dough almost forms.

Before your dough is fully formed, add in your chopped white chocolate (or chips) and continue to fold together until your chocolate is evenly dispersed and your dough has formed.

Line a 9x9in square pan (or you can use an 8x8 pan and increase the cook time a bit) with parchment paper. Dollop your dough in and use a flat tool, a spatula or even a spoon to spread flat and into the edges. Sprinkle your remaining two tablespoons of toasted coconut across the top of your dough and then place your pan into the fridge to chill for an hour.

Bake, serve and store your cookie bars. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake your cookie bars for 22-24 minutes. The top should be golden, and the cookie bars should just barely move when you shake the pan. Let your cookie bars cool for at least an hour.

Once your bars have cooled, use a sharp knife to slice into 16 square cookie bars and enjoy!

You can eat and serve your cookie bars right away, or store the slices in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for a few days. These will taste best when fresh baked the same day, but you can always refresh them in the microwave. You can also freeze your sliced cookie bars by wrapping them in plastic wrap and storing in an airtight container in the freezer, then you can defrost them in the fridge or at room temperature to enjoy any time.

Carb and serving info:

Servings: 16

Carbs per serving: 30

Carbs for full recipe: 478

Carbs from white chocolate: 99

Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.

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