So many problems in this recipe, I don’t even know where to begin. Yes, yes. They look fine in the pics, but by the end of the party to which I removed them, they were a sad, sloppy mess.
Sidenote: The party I went to? It was a baked potato party. Like, everyone bring your own potato, and the hosts had a toppings bar. Isn’t that brilliant? I’m always on the lookout for good party ideas. Other thought that crossed my mind this year for a party: 90s rave. Mostly just the part where everyone looks like Gwen Stefani and dances crazily. Not the E part. Wouldn’t that be sweet? Anyway, you don’t have to come if you don’t want to.
Yes, yes. I love grapefruit. I tried to incorporate it in the pastry cream middle layer. It was actually a delicious pastry cream, but it was too runny for these bars. I needed something that would slice a little better.
The crust was ok. Many flavors. The flaked coconut echoed the coconut oil I used in the pastry cream. Very nutty.
Second layer. I saved the leftover pastry cream and used it to top these babies, which was a much better use of it. French toast forever.
I tried making an Italian meringue, but the sugar syrup was too cool when I beat it into the egg whites. Only about half of the syrup was incorporated, making for a meringue that had an odd texture and eggy flavor. I tried to mask it by chucking some coconut on the top. I figured, hey, it almost works for 7 layer bars, those awful sweet Midwestern bars that attempt to create textural interest by piling on coconut at the last second.
Great idea, poor execution, and we live to see another day, friends.
Grapefruit Coconut Cream Bars
Loosely based on these lemon meringue pie bars
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs + handful of coconut flakes
½ cup all-purpose flour
pastry cream of choice (I used this base recipe from Joy of Baking, adding in grapefruit zest and stirring in a spoonful of coconut oil. I wouldn’t use straight up pastry cream though–it was too runny. Try the lemon filling from the above linked recipe instead.)
1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
6 egg whites, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8×8-inch square baking pan and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour, graham cracker and coconut flakes, mixing until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and pat into an even layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack.
Spread the pastry cream over the cooled crust, then remove to the fridge while you make the meringue topping.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the water, and the corn syrup over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, do not stir, and heat to 240 degrees F.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. If the sugar syrup has not yet reached 240 degrees, turn the mixer off and wait. Once the syrup reaches the correct temperature, turn the mixer speed to medium and add the syrup to the bowl in a slow, steady stream down the side of the bowl. Increase the speed to high and beat until thick, fluffy and cool, about 7 minutes.
Spread the meringue on top of the pastry cream, swirling to form peaks. If you have more coconut, sprinkle a bit on the top of the bars. Using the broil setting on your oven, toast the meringue to a golden brown color, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. Allow the meringue to cool, then slice into bars and serve.