I’m a bitter person. Not the jealous, sullen, begrudging type. I enjoy bitter things. Like coffee, Campari and witty wry humor. It’s a much more pleasant side of bitterness. I am sure I have plenty of valid reasons to hold grudges against people who’ve done me wrong over the years. But why? Especially when you can reserve the bitter for something sweet, like these Grapefruit Coconut Bars. I just don’t have space in my life for that. I’d rather move forward, share a cup of coffee and be rid of the weighty feelings that harbor bitterness altogether.
They’re like lemon bars but better!
Sourness needs sweetness. In life and in baked goods. These grapefruit bars are a testament to the balance between the bitter and the sweet. Blurring the lines between puckering-ly tart and severely saccharine. I lean bitter but for these Grapefruit Coconut Bars I was focused on the sweet side instead of allowing my bitterness to get the best of me.
I was able to find sweetness within the bitter and round out the more astringent edges with the natural sweetness that comes from shredded coconut. The crust for these citrus bars bakes up in a 9″ x 13″ cake pan. It’s a simple press-in buttery shortbread base with naturally sweet shredded coconut for texture. And a little tickle of warmth from ground ginger. The shortbread crust bakes up first making a sturdy base for the light and airy, tart grapefruit filling on top.
All of the ingredients work together to make a dynamic bar layered in flavor & texture.
- Grapefruit brings the bitterness but also the brightness.
- Coconut adds a chewy textures and natural sweetness.
- Ginger grounds the bars in earthy warmth.
- Butter gives the shortbread base it’s rich, comforting flavor.
- Eggs enrich the filling creating that smooth custardy layer.
Once these bars have baked up and the zingy grapefruit filling has set, I like to add a bit of texture to that smoothness by sprinkling on some more shredded coconut.
Just as we want the sweet with the bitter, we need a little texture to break up all of that smoothness.
Texture adds depth, keeps things interesting and adds a story. Things can’t always be smooth and glossy, my Grapefruit Coconut Bars certainly weren’t, but the texture is where the magic lies.
These Grapefruit Coconut Bars are easy to make but full of complexity. They bring brightness, bitterness, sweetness, texture and heart. Like the memory of an old friend you’ve been meaning to call but your pride has been standing in the way. Letting go of bitterness and letting in a little sweetness can be cathartic in life and in baked goods. So bake up a batch of bright bars, make that call and break through the bitterness by sharing something sweet, you’ll be so glad you did.
Grapefruit Coconut Bars
- Yield: 24 bars
These Grapefruit Coconut Bars have a crumbly coconut shortbread crust, topped with a zesty and lusciously creamy grapefruit filling and a textural sprinkle of shredded coconut.
COCONUT SHORTBREAD CRUST
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup shredded coconut (- unsweetened)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (- at room temperature)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 6 large eggs (- at room temperature)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1–2 large grapefruits, zested & freshly squeezed (you need 1 cup juice & 1 1/2 tablespoons of zest)
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup shredded coconut (- unsweetened)
COCONUT SHORTBREAD CRUST
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with parchment paper or grease the pan with melted butter of cooking spray.
- Whisk the flour, shredded coconut, ginger and salt together in a bowl.
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Add the vanilla and mix until just incorporated.
- Reduce the mixer to a low speed and add the dry ingredients. Mix util the dry ingredients are just incorporated, it will come together quickly. You don’t want to over-mix, the dough should be crumbly so it’s easier to press into the pan.
- Pour the crumbly dough into the prepared pan and evenly distribute over the bottom. Lightly press the dough into the pan until even and smooth. You can use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the dough evenly into the pan. Then bake for 25-ish minutes, until the crust is golden and toasty.
- While the crust bakes, prepare the filling by lightly beating the eggs. Then whisk in the sugar and flour until smooth. Add the grapefruit juice, zest, milk and salt and whisk together until blended.
- Turn the oven temperature down to 325°F. Whisk the filling once more just before carefully pouring it over the warm crust.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling feels firm when lightly touched. It should be slightly jiggly when you shake it but not runny.
- Allow to cool at least 45 minutes – 1 hour at room temperature. Slice into a grid 6 x 4 grid for 24 squares and carefully transfer from the pan to a cooling rack or baking sheet.
- To create the straight edge design with the shredded coconut, use a bench knife or something with a straight edge & hold it just above one bar at a time, at an angle from corner to corner, while sprinkling shredded coconut over the exposed side of the grapefruit bars. Repeat with each bar.
*This recipe makes 24 bars in a 9″ x 13″ pan.
*Use parchment paper to line the pan to keep the bars from sticking and for easy removal from the pan.
*You must allow the bars to cool completely before cutting to achieve sharp, square edges.
*You can use any variety of grapefruit, I used Ruby Red Grapefruit in this recipe.
*Store the bars covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
This recipe for Grapefruit Coconut Bars was developed in collaboration with a super talented crew of food bloggers friends. Be sure to check out the #greatfruitgrapefruit hashtag on Instagram for all kinds of grapefruit inspo and visit the hot links to this big ol’ blogger collab & their lovely instagram accounts at the bottom of this post.
A bright and sunny thank you to Rebecca of squaremealroundtable.com and Annie of whatsannieeating.com for hosting this vibrant virtual grapefruit get-together!
#GREATFRUITGRAPEFRUIT COLLABORATOR RECIPES
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- Baking The Goods – Grapefruit Coconut Bars
- Suburban Pie and Treats- Grapefruit Custard Pie
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- Jessie Sheehan Bakes – Pink Grapefruit Bars
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- Candied Pomelo – Chocolate Covered Grapefruit Peels
- The Capsule Kitchen – Grapefruit Margaritas
- Foodsoulutions -refined sugar-free grapefruit rosemary soda
- The Healthy Sins – Grapefruit Curd Tartlets with Roasted Meringue
- Bappy Girl -Grapefruit Basil Marmalade https://bappygirlyum.blogspot.com/2019/02/grapefruit-basil-marmalade.html
- This Healthy Table – Spicy Thai Grapefruit Salad
- Always Eat Dessert – Grapefruit Tart
- For the Love of Gourmet – Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake
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