Rich, chewy, and almost pecan-pie-like, Coconut Dream Bars are a classic cookie that’s perfect for the holidays, for snacking or for any special occasion.
I’ve decided that the name of these cookies, Dream Bars, is a perfect match for the classic treat. That’s because the bars are so tasty they’re almost a dream.
The rich, nutty flavor and melty chew even remind me of pecan pie–with an added hint of sweet coconut.
My mother made the cookies every Christmas, and I grew up adoring them. Now, since I just discovered they’re even easy, I had to ask, why did I wait so long?
Yes, I know. So many recipes, so little time.
What are Dream Bars
The earliest reference I could find to Dream Bars was from a 1934 edition of the Lincoln Star newspaper. A reader submitted the recipe, and it was almost identical to my version.
My recipe came by way of a We Energies Holiday Cookie Book from 1969, though I resized it from 11 x 7 to 8 x 8. I guess pan sizes have changed over the years!
There is another bar cookie, called a Magic Bar, that is sometimes conflated with Dream Bars. But the Magic Bar also contains butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and sweetened condensed milk and ends up as a more cake-like bar.
Why You’ll Love This!
Flavor. These are loaded with flavor from shredded coconut, pecans and brown sugar. Add in an amazing creamy-chewy texture, and the experience is a sensory delight.
No Special Ingredients. Don’t you hate when you’re psyched to make something and you don’t have one special ingredient? Well, if shredded coconut and pecans or walnuts are staples in your house (they are for me), you’ve got this.
Easy. Mix a few ingredients, press and bake a crust. Mix a few more, pour and do a final bake. Easy-peasy.
What You’ll Need
- Butter. This helps the crust hold together.
- Brown sugar. This sweetens both the crust and the filling.
- Flour. This forms the bulk of the crust and helps thicken the filling.
- Eggs. This enriches and helps thicken the filling.
- Chopped pecans. This adds nutty goodness to the filling.
- Shredded coconut. This adds coconutty goodness to the filling.
- Baking powder. This helps lighten the filling.
- Salt. Salt serves as a flavor enhancer.
- Baking parchment can be very helpful for removing the cookies if you line the pan with it. Though I know my mother must have simply sprayed or buttered the pan.
Step by Step Directions
Mix the crust ingredients, then press into a parchment lined pan. Bake for 10 minutes until starting to turn golden.
Beat the eggs slightly.
Mix in remaining ingredients.
Spread over the crust. (Mine was still warm)
Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until golden. Allow to cool completely in the tin, then use parchment to pull out the cookies for cutting.
How to Serve
These would be lovely on any holiday cookie tray. But I’d also use them as a dessert or snack anywhere a nice cookie would be welcome. I think they’d be lovely at an Easter or Mother’s Day brunch, a baby shower or any festive event.
We just served them for dessert when we housed a visiting cellist playing at a local music festival. I like to think the sweet treats helped give him energy for a stellar performance!
They also make a great snack, especially with coffee or milk.
The 1953 WE Energies Annual Holiday Cookie Book gives two additional variations on this. One is a Chocolate Dream Bar that is similar but adds chocolate chips. The other is a corn flake version.
And see the section “What are Dream Bars” above, for a comparison to Magic Bars.
Of course if you’re now really in the mood, take a look at my Pecan Pie Cookies, which are made in a mini muffin pan and look just like tiny pecan pies.
Since the filling is soft and contains egg (like pecan pie), I suspect the FDA would want them treated similarly, and refrigerated within two hours of baking.
You should be able to freeze them, once cool.
Tips & FAQs
If you don’t have parchment, you can try just spraying the pan with non-stick spray. These are sticky, though, so you may end up crumbling the first cookie as you remove it. Then you’ll have to eat it–baking can be rough.
I lined my pan with parchment leaving long ends that extended up over two opposite sides. Then I sprayed the pan, including the parchment, before adding the cookie mixture.
When they were done, I let everything cool, then I used a thin knife to loosen the sides. Next I grabbed the parchment ends to lift it out as a single cookie slab. Finally, I cut it up into 2 x 2 inch cookies with a long knife. No crumbles then, but I think the cook might need one anyway for quality control!
Crazy for Coconut!
- 7 Layer Cookie Bars from Hezzi-D’s Recipe Box
- Curry Coconut Shrimp Tacos from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Dream Bars from Art of Natural Living
- Fifteens from That Recipe
- Pol Sambol from Magical Ingredients
Coconut Dream Bars
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Prepare the crust.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan with parchment, then spray with non-stick spray.
- Mix the crust ingredients, then press into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes until starting to turn golden.
Prepare the filling
- Beat the eggs slightly.
- Mix in remaining ingredients.
- Spread over the crust. (Mine was still warm)
- Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until golden.
- Allow to cool completely in the tin, then use parchment to pull out the cookies for cutting.
- Maple Pecan Cherry Scones
- Sunshine Orange Scones