Apricot-cherry coconut bars make a perfect little afternoon snack with a cuppa, or a sweet bite for dessert. Filled with sweet-tart dried fruit and topped with coconut and pecans, they’re chewy and taste divine topped with whipped cream.
The sourness of the cherries and the sweetness of the coconut make this a spot-on foil for a spot of tea. For an even more decadent treat, top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.–Greg Patent
WHAT DRIED FRUIT CAN I SUBSTITUTE FOR APRICOTS AND CHERRIES?
You may be fickle about which dried fruits you fancy, although this recipe isn’t. We can see swapping any of several dried fruits for the apricots and sour cherries. Raisins, whether dark or golden, for starters. Dried plums, a.k.a. dried prunes, for sure. Cranberries for fall, perhaps? Figs tempt us, that’s for certain. What fruits do you find becoming in this sorta incarnation? Let us know in a comment below.
Apricot-Cherry Coconut Bars
For the filling
- 1/2 pound dried apricots
- 1/2 pound dried unsweetened sour cherries
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the crust and crumbly topping
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter softened, plus more for the baking dish
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Make the filling
- Combine the apricots, cherries, and water in a heavy 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Strain the plumped fruit over a bowl, reserving the cooking liquid.
- Return the plumped fruit to the pan. Using a potato masher, a fork, or the back of a wooden spoon, smash the fruit until it's almost smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid and the sugar. Bring the purée to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Transfer the purée to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
Make the crust and crumbly topping
- While the filling cools, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg and whisk to combine.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix just until everything is incorporated.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the pecans and coconut. The mixture will be crumbly. Press half the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned.
- Remove the pan from the oven and spread the cooled fruit filling evenly over the hot crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture over the fruit and gently pat the crumbs in place. (Do not pack the crumbly topping down.)
- Bake the bars for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely before cutting into bars.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I made this recipe for the first time last week. Since then, I’ve made it 2 more times. Everyone keeps asking for the recipe and talking about other fruit combinations. The hardest part of this recipe is mashing the cooked fruit. Once you get through that part, the rest is so easy.
Like most bar cookies, the first one is tricky to get out of the pan, but it still tastes great. I didn’t serve it with the sweetened whipped cream, as I felt it wasn’t needed. Apricot–cherry is very nice, but I also made apricot–blueberry and peach–mango, and each of them is just as good as the next. I can’t wait to try more combinations of fruits.
These apricot-cherry coconut bars are great with tea or coffee and would make a nice addition to a dessert party or shower. I like the combination of cherry and apricot, although I think the bars would also be good if made with just cherries or just apricots.
Originally published April 23, 2004