You know when you get a song stuck in your head? And it doesn’t go away? Even when you’re trying to fall asleep or reading or chopping veggies and it’s still running around the back of your mind and you can’t make it stop? Well, ever since I saw this recipe that’s happened to me. “She put the lime in the coconut and drank it all up, she put the lime in the coconut, called her doctor, woke him up, Say doctor, is there nothing I can take, I say doccccctor, to relieve this belly ache, She put the lime in the coconut…” Arrrrrrgggggghhhh. That is not a fun song to be hearing relentlessly at 2 am. Anyhow, I finally got to make this recipe, Coconut and Lime Bars with Hazelnut Shortbread. Those are key limes up there, so tiny and cute. That’s a small to medium size lemon, just for scale. Yes, I know, no coconut. You use the pre-shredded kind. And no, I had no intention of whacking a coconut open if I could even find one.
These bars are delicious. Using the key limes gave them a delicate flavor, the hazelnut shortbread brings an unexpected dimension, and the coconut adds body, chewy texture and the flavor comes on last, finishing sweetly. They’re not hard to make, but I wouldn’t put them in the quick catagory. I, and I’m in no way debating Bon Appetit, did a few things differently to adapt to my home kitchen. First the shortbread….mmmmm…shortbread. It has a lot of butter in it. Lots. And after pressing it into the pan it felt a bit soft to me, so I put the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to let the butter firm up again so I’d have lovely flakey shortbread.
I then baked it for 18 minutes instead of the 28 it called for. Since it had another 35 minutes of baking, I didn’t want the shortbread overdone as has happened before. In my oven, the shortbread crusts tend to overly brown and dry out at the full baking time, shattering themselves upon removal or trying to bite into it. I think this worked perfectly. Nicely browned, crumbly but holding together as shortbread should.
Those were the only changes to this great recipe. Oh, and the 2 hour chilling time. Really difficult. But these are really good, good enough to appease and silence the ghost of Harry Nilsson singing in my head. I think he approved.
Here’s the recipe, exactly as written in the July issue of Bon Appetit.
Coconut-Lime Bars with Hazelnut Shortbread Crust
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
13 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
5 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 8 large limes)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
3/4 cup (packed) sweetened flaked coconut (about 3 ounces)
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Blend nuts and sugar in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add flour and salt; blend 5 seconds. Add butter and process until well blended. Press dough evenly onto bottom of 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Bake crust until golden brown, about 28 minutes; cool completely in pan on rack. Maintain oven temperature.
Whisk sugar and eggs in large bowl until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Whisk in lime juice, then flour and lime peel. Pour filling over crust in pan.
Bake lime bars 25 minutes (filling will not be fully set). Sprinkle coconut evenly over. Bake until filling is completely set, about 10 minutes longer.
Cool bars in pan on rack. Chill uncovered until cold, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.