Creamy Lime & Coconut Crumb Bars

IMG_4249Lime and coconut are a match made in heaven, a flavor combination that I love to incorporate into all kinds of baking during the warm summer months. The zesty citrus kick from the lime and the tropical mellowness of the coconut work so well together, and these bars are no exception. It wasn’t until I started making them that I realized how similar they are to these fabulous Oatmeal Lemon Creme Bars. Both have an oatmeal crumb crust, a creamy citrus filling, and an oatmeal crumb topping. The differences are minor: the lemon version calls for the bottom crust to be slightly baked before the creme mixture is poured on top and baked further, and while the lime version has a very pronounced lime flavor in its filling, the creme filling in the other bars has a more subdued lemon flavor. And of course the lime version has the addition of shredded coconut in the crust to bring out that killer flavor combo! But basically, we have a lime version and a lemon version of some seriously delicious oatmeal creme bars.

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These bars start off with an oatmeal-coconut crumb base that gives them a great chewy texture and also provides a nice contrast from the sweet lime filling. The filling is, for lack of better words, amazing. It’s smooth, creamy, tart, sweet, and tastes like a cross between cheesecake and key lime pie. Sandwich it between the oatmeal crust and crumb topping and you’ve got the best of both worlds. My favorite way to eat these is straight out of the fridge, when they’re especially cool and creamy.

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These fast, simple, no-fuss bars are ideal for any type of summer picnic, potluck, or get-together. Or of course you could just make them for no special occasion at all…in my book you never need an excuse to bake!

IMG_4256Since this is my official last day of high school (yay!) I decided to celebrate and make a batch of these bars. Sunshine + 70-degree weather + final day of school + a Lime and Coconut Crumb Bar = pure happiness. It’s definitely nice to sit back, enjoy my delicious treat, and bask in the sun ignorance for a few minutes as I pretend that I don’t have a mountain of laundry to do, a bedroom to put back together after the carpet-cleaner came yesterday, a car in desperate (read: 1/4 inch of dust) need of a cleaning job, and multiple graduation parties to go to. It can all wait until I’ve finished a bar or two or ten, right?

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Creamy Lime & Coconut Crumb Bars

Makes 16 squares

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons fresh lime zest

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray an 8″x8″ baking pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Using a fork, mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt until the mixture is crumbly and well-combined. Mix in the oats and coconut and set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, lime juice, and lime zest until smooth.

Evenly press 2 cups’ worth of the oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the lime mixture over the top, spreading it evenly with a spatula. Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the top, covering the lime mixture completely. Lightly press down the crumb topping.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden-brown. Let the bars cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

(Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod)

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