Preview: Chewy Coconut-Pecan Bars, AKA Chinese Chews, combine a shortbread base with a coconut-pecan pie type of experience. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with a browned butter icing for a fabulous taste experience.
When approaching a pan of baked bar cookies such as these Chewy Coconut-Pecan Bars or brownies, do you wonder how you’re going to get the first piece out without butchering it?
I’ve got the answer for you. It’s not complicated. Remember to do it BEFORE you put the cookies in the pan.
Don’t miss the mini-tutorial about how to quickly line a baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil for neat and clean removal of these cookies from the pan. BONUS: This secret makes clean-up a cinch!
Helen Corbitt first introduced me to a form of these cookies in her recipe, “Chinese Chews,” published in her “Cooks for Company” cookbook. Then, when I worked at the Greenhouse (a luxury health spa from years ago), everybody went crazy for them.
Ingredients and substitutions:
- FLOUR: All-purpose flour is always my first choice.
- BROWN SUGAR: There are lots of substitutes for brown sugar. I would try coconut sugar in this recipe. You may need to add a little more butter to make up for the moisture difference.
- SALT: I used table salt, but sea salt or Kosher salt is also acceptable.
- BUTTER: You could substitute margarine, but butter is an important part of the flavor in this recipe. I don’t recommend it.
- EGGS: I always use LARGE eggs.
- COCONUT: If you’re not a coconut lover, you can leave this out. The cookies won’t be nearly as chewy.
- PECANS: Use walnuts if you prefer. Even almonds would work. No matter what kind of nuts you use, they’re always better if you toast them first. You can toast nuts easily in your microwave.
- CONFECTIONER’S SUGAR: AKA powdered sugar. You don’t have to sprinkle powdered sugar on top or make the icing if you don’t have this sugar. You could also use a blender to make confectioner’s sugar, if needed.
How to prepare a pan for baking bar cookies:
Do you know about Reynolds Wrap non-stick aluminum foil?
You don’t have to use non-stick foil to make these cookies, but I highly recommend it. Without it, they will taste wonderful, but you will enjoy the cutting, serving, and clean-up process oh so much more.
If you dread washing those sticky, gooey, and hard-to-scrape pans, this magic foil is a lazy dishwasher’s saving grace. It also makes removing the entire uncut batch from the pan crazy easy.
After cooling the cookies, carefully lift the cookies out of the pan using the foil as handles. Then peel the foil away from the cookies. Without the confines of the pan, even the first cookie you cut can be perfect.
I use this technique for bar cookies such as these Peanut Butter Bars. For a few extra pennies, it’s worth it.
More uses for non-stick aluminum foil:
- Cover cheese-topped casseroles so the melted cheese won’t stick and be pulled off with foil is removed.
- Wrap food in packets for baking in the oven–especially fish
- Cover cookie sheets for roasting vegetables and potatoes, especially if you plan to sprinkle them with cheese.
If you think you can use regular foil sprayed with vegetable oil, well, yes, you could. But for some reason, it doesn’t work as well, according to Cooks Illustrated.
You might want to hide this foil, so the rest of the family doesn’t use it or waste it thinking it’s just like any other foil in the drawer. It is somewhat pricey compared to regular aluminum foil.
How to serve Chewy Coconut-Pecan Bars:
Serve these cookies plain, with powdered sugar, or dress them up with a browned butter glaze you can make in a microwave.
Cut them in diamonds for a party or squares for the family.
Credits: The shortbread base is the same used in my Easy Toffee Bars and Meyer Lemon Yogurt Squares. The pecan-coconut layer is adapted from the “Chinese Chews” printed in Helen Corbitt’s Cooks for Company.
More recipes with coconut:
Did you enjoy this recipe? If so, you can help others and me by leaving a 5-star 🤩 rating in the comment section below. No comment is required.
p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at saladinajar.com.
Hope to see you again soon!
Chewy Coconut Pecan Bars Recipe
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour - 120 gr
- ¼ cup brown sugar - 53 gr
- ¼ teaspoon table or sea salt - 1 gr
- ¼ cup melted butter - 57 gr
- 2 large eggs - 100 gr
- ⅔ cup brown sugar - 142 gr
- ½ cup shredded coconut - 43 gr
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour - 15 gr
- ½ cup lightly toasted pecans - 57 gr
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
Browned Butter Icing (optional)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon half and half or milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar - 114 gr
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract - optional
- Prepare an 8×8-inch square pan by lining with foil (see the picture in post), parchment paper, or spray with oil/butter mixture such as Baker's Joy.
- Combine 1 cup flour, ¼ cup brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Add melted butter and lightly mix with a fork. Press evenly into prepared pan.
- Bake at 350˚F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.
- In a medium bowl, beat 2 eggs until foamy. Gradually add ⅔ cup of brown sugar to the eggs and beat until thick.
- Stir ½ cup coconut and 2 tablespoons of flour together. Combine with the brown sugar and eggs.
- Add ½ cup pecans, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Spread over the baked shortbread layer.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 350˚F.
- When cool, turn the entire baked cookie out onto a flat surface and peel off paper or foil if using. Flip over and sprinkle with powdered sugar or ice with Browned Butter Glaze. Cut in squares or diamonds as you prefer.
Browned Butter Icing (optional)
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter on low in a skillet on the stove until it barely turns brown. Add one tablespoon cream or milk and combine. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add one teaspoon vanilla extract if using. If icing is too thick, add more milk. If too thin, add more sugar.