Bushwacker Bars

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These decadent bars have a rum-spiked, macaroon-like layer of shredded coconut on top of coffee shortbread.

Bushwacker Bars
Photo:

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 35 mins
Yield:
16 bars

Soft and buttery coffee shortbread forms the base of these sticky-sweet coconut bars. Much like the refreshing Bushwacker cocktail, with ties to the Caribbean Island of St. Thomas, these cookies wouldn’t be complete without a glug of rum, a touch of chocolate, and a cherry on top. Preppy Kitchen’s John Kanell recommends sweetened condensed coconut milk to give the macaroon-like coconut layer a double dose of richness and sweet coconut flavor. Aged golden rum amps up the sandy shortbread with hints of caramelized sugar and vanilla. Chill the bars thoroughly before cutting for clean, even slices. Sweetened condensed coconut milk is available near the canned milks at most grocery stores, or substitute regular sweetened condensed milk, replacing 2 tablespoons of the regular condensed milk with 2 tablespoons cream of coconut.

Ingredients

Coffee Shortbread

  • Cooking spray

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 5/8 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (about 3 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (8 ounces), melted and slightly cooled

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso granules

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Rummy Coconut Topping

  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed coconut milk (5 ounces) (such as Let’s Do Organic)

  • 5 tablespoons dark rum (such as Santa Teresa 1796)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1 (14-ounce) package sweetened shredded coconut, finely chopped

  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature

Additional Ingredients

  • 2 oz dark chocolate

  • 16 chocolate-covered stem-on maraschino cherries (such as The Cordial Cherry)

Directions

Make the coffee shortbread:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in top third position. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Set aside.

  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until combined. Whisk together butter, egg yolk, espresso granules, and vanilla in a medium bowl until combined. Pour butter mixture into flour mixture; stir until no dry spots of flour remain. Press dough mixture into an even layer in prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven until surface is set and edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Make the rummy coconut topping:

  1. Whisk together condensed coconut milk, rum, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in coconut. Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 minute and 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Fold egg whites into coconut mixture. Carefully spread coconut mixture onto cooled shortbread, and gently press into an even layer.

  2. Bake at 325°F until edges are golden brown and center feels springy to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer pan to a wire rack. Let bars cool completely in pan, about 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill until completely set, at least 2 hours or up to overnight (12 hours).

  3. Using parchment paper overhang as handles, carefully remove chilled cookie bars from pan, and place on a cutting board. Cut evenly into 16 squares. Microwave dark chocolate in a small microwavable bowl on high until melted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer melted chocolate to a small piping bag. Cut tip of piping bag to create a small opening, about 1/16 inch wide. Pipe chocolate diagonally onto cookie bars. Top each square with a chocolate-covered cherry. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 5 minutes.

Note

Sweetened condensed coconut milk is available near the canned milks at most grocery stores, or substitute regular sweetened condensed milk, replacing 2 tablespoons of the regular condensed milk with 2 tablespoons cream of coconut.

To Make Ahead

Bars may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or in refrigerator up to 1 week. Chill bars well before cutting for clean slices.

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