Dream Bar Cookie Recipe
Gotta Love Coconut and Nuts!
The vintage bar cookie, dream bars, goes back to at least the 1950s.
They are easy enough to make, and if you like their rich, buttery goodness, you won't care that you have to cut them small.
These cookies are made in two stages, one right after the other. First, mix and press the crust into a parchment-lined baking dish. Bake that, then fill and bake again.
Once they are completely cool, it's time to cut and enjoy them!
It's the butter, as well as coconut and nuts, that make them delicious. For a special treat, enjoy them slowly and remember old traditions or create a new tradition of old-fashioned goodness at your house.
Pour a cup of your favorite tea or coffee, and enjoy these vintage favorites one small, luscious bite at a time!
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 1 cup cake flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup moist shredded coconut
- Line the bottom of an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream the butter, confectioners sugar and cake flour together. Spread evenly over the parchment paper, and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on this to make sure the edges don't get too brown.
- Meanwhile, combine the eggs and brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, blending well. Fold in the coconuts and nuts.
- Remove the baked crust from the oven and pour on the nut mixture. Return pan to the oven for another 30 minutes. Cool in the pan and cut into small bars with a sharp knife. Makes about 24 bar cookies.
Tips for Making Dream Bars
I've made many batches of these cookies over the years. Here are a few things that will help you make a batch that will look and taste like the vintage classic they are.
- Be sure to use the specified ingredients. That's cake flour in the cookie crust. Its low gluten content makes a more tender crust. Regular all-purpose flour (used in the filling) won't give you the right texture in the cookie bottom.
- Also, check the date on your baking powder, and make sure yours is fresh. If it's too old, you won't get a proper rise from the filling.
- Have your filling ready to pour onto the crust when it comes out of the oven. It should not be allowed to cool off too much. Pour in and smooth out, then the pan can go right back in for the second part of the baking.
- Let the cookies cool completely before you cut them, and use a sharp knife. Wipe off the knife after every slice to keep crumbling to a minimum. The filling is sticky!
It must be that whole stick of butter, in a recipe that makes one 8x8 inch square pan of bar cookies. Then the brown sugar gives them a butterscotch flavor. These are awesome!
If you wish, sprinkle on a little extra confectioners sugar after they are baked. Just make sure they are completely cool first.
What to Look for in Walnuts
I buy my English walnut pieces in the produce section of the grocery store. I think they are fresher than the packages in the bakery aisle.
I get the pieces instead of the chopped ones, because I like larger pieces. I'm going to cut them, but not as fine as those that are already chopped.
Another thing I'm looking for is the quantity. I only want a 12 or 16-oz. bag, enough for about three batches, if I can find one that size. That way I'll be using fresher nuts for baking.
After I chop the nuts for the recipe, I keep the rest tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Nuts will go rancid, and I want mine to last long enough to make two or three more batches. If it's going to be a long wait, the leftovers can go in the freezer, well wrapped and labeled.
I could use Black Walnuts for this recipe, though it would change the character of the finished product. I have not tried this because we want to eat the cookies we remember from years ago. (I'll use Black Walnuts in other recipes.)
A Reproduction Vintage Cookbook Just Like Mom's or Grandma's
One of grandma's favorite cookbooks.
My copy is a 1950's original, well used and worn, but you can still get a paperback version of this classic cookbook.
Look for the original Dream Bars recipe on about page 32.
Why Dream Bars Are Dreamy
If you've never made these luscious bar cookies, here's what you can look forward to:
- Savor the buttery intersection of cookie, coconut and nuts.
- Melt in your mouth goodness, and complementary to a hot cup of coffee or tea, or a cold glass of milk.
- Remember days gone by, when Mom or Grandma made these for special treats.