How to bake: Coconut-Nut caramel bars

Ever since I started baking, one of my favorite things to make has always been cookies–snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, spritz cookies–you name it, I’ve made it. But the one cookie recipe I always come back to isn’t one of the classics. In fact, it was one of the first cookie recipes I made on my own, from “All About Cookies:” chocolate-glazed toffee bars.

Though the recipe is delicious on its own, there have always been a few shortcomings and things I’ve wanted to tweak. So, after testing different modifications, I present to you my altered recipe, which has changed so much that it deserves its own, new name: coconut-nut bars.

These bars combine the mellow crunch of any type of nut you desire–or pretzels, if you’re allergic to nuts–with light and crispy coconut shreds in a caramel sauce, all atop a thick shortbread crust, then topped off with chocolate


    • Ingredients
      1. Shortbread
        • 1 cup flour
        • 2 Tbsp sugar
        • A pinch of salt
        • 6 Tbsp (¾ stick) cold butter, cut into small cubes
        • 1-3 tsp milk
      2. Caramel Filling
        • 1 ½ cups chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.) or pretzels
        • 5 Tbsp butter
        • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
        • 2 Tbsp corn syrup
        • 1 Tbsp milk
        • A pinch of salt (if using pretzels or salted nuts, don’t add this)
        • 1 tsp vanilla extract
        • ⅓ cup unsweetened coconut shreds
      3. Garnish
        • ¼ cup chocolate chips (milk, semisweet, or bittersweet)
        • 2 Tbsp chopped nuts, pretzels


        • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut shreds


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then take an 8×8 inch pan and grease it with vegetable oil.

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk. Add your butter cubes next and use your fingers, or a fork (or two), to combine it with the flour until your mixture looks like wet sand, like shown. Don’t worry if there are a few butter chunks here and there.

Add the milk one teaspoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until your mixture comes together into one large clump of dough with a uniform consistency. Press this dough into your 8×8 inch pan using your fingers until it’s smooth. This layer will eventually be covered up with delicious caramel so it doesn’t have to be pretty.

Place this dough in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes, and when it’s done remove and bake for 10 minutes. In the meantime, add your butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, milk and salt in a small pan and cook it on the stove over medium until boiling. Then, keep it at a medium simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Next, pour in your coconut and either your nuts or pretzels. Stir to combine and remove from heat.

If you haven’t already, bake your chilled dough for 10 minutes and remove from the oven. If the crust has bubbled up or risen anywhere, poke it with a fork to release the gas trapped underneath. Then, pour your caramel mixture over top and spread to smooth. Place this back in the oven and bake for 20-22 minutes until the edges are golden and bubbling.

Once your caramel and shortbread is done baking, remove it from the oven and toss the chocolate chips on top.

After a few minutes, use a butter knife to spread them across the top, then on top of that, sprinkle your coconut shreds.

After about an hour, or however long it takes for the chocolate to solidify (you will be able to tell because it will no longer be glossy), dig in!