Lime * Coconut * Chocolate: that is a flavor combination that is timeless. Though lime and coconut give a distinctly tropical vibe, these bars will be appreciated at any occasion whether you see a palm tree or a snowbank out your window.
The texture and taste of this recipe is not unlike the classic Ecstasy Bars, but with a lime filling these layered bars are a refreshing change-up.
Even my husband who “doesn’t hate coconut but just doesn’t like it” loved these bars, as did my coworkers on the many occasions that I brought them to work.
The recipe has a few steps of bringing the pan in and out of the oven, but despite this it’s actually a pretty easy process and a manageable number of ingredients.
If you are looking for a sweet fix, these Napoleon bars will do the trick!
This is a great dessert to consider bringing to any get together, and that includes Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas parties.
One note: When you get ready to toast the coconut for these Napoleons, be ready to stand vigilant at the oven! Trust me: it’s not at all hard to toast coconut. But it is rather easy to burn it. My favorite kitchen-fail story is the dead-of-winter night that I filled our second floor apartment with thick, black smoke, after sticking a tray of coconut in the oven and walking away.
Though it was years ago that black, coconut cloud is probably still hanging over the building. The recipe I had been using said that toasting coconut under the broiler would take five minutes… no, no, no. One minute, maybe one and a half!
Cocoa, Lime & Coconut Napoleon Bars
Instructions for toasting the coconut are below.
Allow time in your schedule to chill these bars before serving them.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 9 whole graham crackers, finely crushed
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
- 1/2 cup lime juice (takes about two medium-sized limes)
- 1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Toast the coconut:
- Preheat the broiler in your oven. Spread the coconut on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put it under the broiler. **Don't walk away!** Park yourself in front of the little window on your oven door. Check the coconut every 20 seconds and stir it around as it starts to brown. When the coconut looks golden brown, remove the pan from the oven. This should not take more than two minutes under a hot broiler, and the final time will depend on the moisture content of your coconut.
Prepare the cocoa layer:
- Reduce the oven heat to 350º F. Spray an 8-inch x 8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with a strip of parchment paper that is cut to fit the inside of the pan with overlap on either end. Spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.
- Melt the butter for the crust in a large saucepan. Once it is melted, stir in the sugar and cocoa powder. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the crushed graham crackers, stirring to combine everything well.
- Press HALF of the graham mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake it for 8 minutes until it is set. Remove the pan from the oven to a cooling rack. In the meantime, start the filling.
Prepare the lime layer:
- Beat the egg yolks on medium-high speed with a beater or stand mixer until they turn light yellow, about 4 minutes. Add in the condensed milk and beat it into the eggs for another 4 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. Add in the lime juice and zest and mix everything together on low speed.
- Once the crust has cooled for a few minutes, pour 1 cup of the lime filling evenly over the crust and gently spread it to the edges. Return the pan to the oven and bake it for 8 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the remaining chocolate-graham mixture evenly across the top. Press the crumbs in lightly, then bake it for an additional 8 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Pour the remaining lime filling evenly over the top. Place the pan in the oven and bake it for 10 minutes until the top is set. Remove the pan to a cooling rack, and you can now turn off the oven!
- Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the top and gently press it into the filling. Wrap the pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- To serve, use the ends of the parchment to lift the Napoleons out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Use a warm knife (hold it under hot running water then dry it) to cut them into bars. Arrange the bars on a platter and serve.
If they are not consumed immediately, wrap the leftovers and store them in the fridge for up to 1 week.