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Chewy Dream Bars + a Tip for Easy Removal of the Cookies from the Pan

If a coconut-pecan pie married a shortbread cookie, the offspring might look like these Chewy Coconut-Pecan Dream Bars, aka Coconut Chews. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with a browned butter icing for a fabulous sugar-spiked taste experience.

Don’t miss the mini-tutorial about how to easily line a baking pan with aluminum foil for clean and neat removal of these Dream Bar cookies and quick clean-up.

Chewy Coconut Pecan Bars

Recipe Inspiration

Helen Corbitt first introduced me to a form of these cookies in her recipe, “Chinese Chews” published in her “Cooks for Company” cookbook. When I worked at the Greenhouse (a luxury health spa from years ago), everybody went crazy for them.

However, as I’ve gotten older (ahem,) I feel the need to lighten up on the sugar. Consequently, my approach is often (but not always) an effort to preserve the flavor and texture of a recipe without destroying my waistline. Perhaps you can relate.

To that end, this recipe still has a shortbread layer but is not as thick as most dream bar recipes.

How to serve “Chewy Dream Bars”

Serve these cookies plain, with powdered sugar, or dress them up with a browned butter glaze. Cut them in diamonds for a party, squares for the family, or let the midnight raiders dig them out of the pan.

How to prepare a pan for baking sticky cookies

how to easily cover pan with foil for easy removal of cookies and clean-up
Turn pan upside down and fold the non-stick foil over it with the dull side down. Remove foil carefully and place it inside of the pan so the dull side is now facing up. Press into corners and sides to conform to pan shape.

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 still taste wonderful, but you will enjoy the cutting, serving, and clean-up process oh so much more.

nonstick aluminum foil

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 cookies have cooled slightly, 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.

If you make brownies, blondies, or any other kind of bar cookies, a non-stick foil is your friend. For a few extra pennies, it’s worth it.

Other 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.

In case you are thinking you can just use regular foil sprayed with vegetable oil….well, yes, you could. But for some unexplained 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 considerably more pricey than regular aluminum foil.

Chewy Coconut Pecan Bars with Browned Butter Icing on a plate with a pitcher


The shortbread base is the same used in my Easy Toffee Bars and Meyer Lemon Yogurt Squares. The pecan-coconut layer is an adaptation from the “Chinese Chews” printed in Helen Corbitt’s Cooks for Company.

More recipes with coconut

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Hope to see you again soon!

p.s. Questions or suggestions? Please email me: Paula at

Yield: 16 squares

Dream Bars with Brown Butter Icing

Dream Bars with Brown Butter Icing

If a pecan pie married a shortbread cookie, their offspring might look like these rich and chewy bars.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


Shortbread Base

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Coconut-Pecan Layer

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut mixed with 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Browned Butter Icing (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon half and half or milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)


Shortbread Base

  1. Prepare an 8x8 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.
  2. Combine flour, brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Add melted butter and lightly mix with a fork. Press evenly into prepared pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

Coconut-Pecan Layer

  1. In a medium bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Gradually add brown sugar to eggs and beat until thick.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread over the baked shortbread layer.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  4. 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)

  1. Microwave butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl for 3 minutes (or heat on low in a skillet on the stove) until it just starts to turn brown. Add cream or milk and combine. Add sugar and mix until smooth. Add vanilla if using. If icing is too thick, add more milk. If too thin, add more sugar.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 184Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 156mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest


Sunday 4th of May 2014

Did you use unsweetened or sweetened coconut?


Saturday 17th of August 2013

Just mouthwatering...looks delicious!


Monday 29th of July 2013

Just made these and they are oh so yummy! My glaze didn't look as smooth as yours but I sure did like the tip on the non stick foil.


Monday 29th of July 2013

Thanks Scooter! About the smooth glaze, maybe you just didn't beat it quite enough to get all the lumps out. Sometimes a little more butter helps--I'm just always trying to keep the butter to the minimum it takes to get good results.

Vicki v

Sunday 28th of July 2013

This is brilliant! I especially like how you molded it to the pan on the outside first. And I liove me some coconut and pecans! Pinned!


Sunday 28th of July 2013

I guess I'm not paying attention while shopping because I haven't seen this non-stick foil yet. Will now be on the lookout for it. I love pecans and these bars with your shortbread crust have made it to the top of my "must bake" list :)

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