Cocomac Shortbread with Lime Curd

This bar is a basic buttery shortbread enriched with shredded coconut and finely chopped macadamias and topped with a layer of lime curd and large toasted coconut flakes. The coconut that you typically find in the supermarket baking aisle is highly sweetened and tastes as much of sugar as it does of coconut. I am asking you to find two different unsweetened coconut products for this recipe. Luckily, at many stores that carry bulk items, such as Whole Foods, you will be able to find both in one location. The first is a very finely grated unsweetened coconut, which is sometimes called desiccated coconut. Doesn’t sound very good but it just means that it is pure, dried coconut. The second type is lovely, large flakes of coconut – also unsweetened. If you cannot find this type to sprinkle on the top of the bar, you can either leave it out, use extra desiccated coconut or shave some fresh coconut yourself! I know this last suggestion is a bit OTT but if you’ve always wanted to buy and work with a whole coconut, this would be a great excuse. For the lime curd, the foolproof way to make it is in the top of a double-boiler BUT I do it over direct heat all the time. I’m daring that wayJ If you want to attempt this, use a nonreactive heavy bottom pot preferably with a rounded bottom, which makes it easier to keep whisking the lime curd. The key is to never leave it and to whisk often.

Makes 24 bars

1 cup  (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) macadamias, toasted and finely chopped

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon lime zest

Topping:

3/4 cup unsweetened large flake coconut

Lime Curd:

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

 

Coat a 13 x 9-inch pan with nonstick spray.

For the Shortbread: Place butter in mixer’s bowl and beat until creamy using the flat paddle attachment. Add the sugar gradually and continue beating on high speed until very light and fluffy. This may take as long as 8 minutes. Do not rush this stage. The mixture should be almost white in color.

Then, gently stir in the flour, coconut and nuts by hand until just incorporated. This is important to retain the delicate texture of the shortbread.

Pat shortbread into pan in an even layer and chill at least 1 hour. About 45 minutes into the chilling time, position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Bake chilled shortbread for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the shortbread is a pale golden brown. Place pan on rack and cool to room temperature.

While crust is baking, make topping: Spread coconut on a half-sheet pan and toast coconut for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Cool pan on rack.

For the Lime Curd: Place sugar, lime juice, eggs, and yolks, in top of double boiler. Whisk together, just enough to break up the eggs and begin to combine the mixture. Add butter cut into chunks. Place over bottom of double boiler that is filled with hot water, enough to just touch the bottom of the bowl. Place over a medium heat and bring water to a simmer, whisking occasionally.

Cook for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, whisking frequently, or until mixture reaches 180 degrees F when tested with an instant read thermometer. The mixture will have thickened and form a soft shape when dropped by spoon on top of the rest. Let cool to room temperature.

Spread cooled lime curd on top of cooled shortbread. Refrigerate until curd has completely firmed up, at least 1 hour. You may hold the bars overnight at this point. Store in refrigerator up to one day, without the coconut topping, with plastic wrap covering pan, but not touching the lime curd.

Sprinkle with flaked coconut right before cutting bars and serving.