Cherry Walnut Coconut Bars

Yesterday I had my very first Instagram meet-up with one of my favorite cake decorators, Nancy from Saltadena. She came from Bellingham, WA to visit Vancouver with her lovely family. Oh I almost died over her little baby girl’s cuteness! Check out her Instagram and you will know what I am talking about. We had so much to chat about yet too little time. Huge thanks to Instagram for bringing me to awesome new friends.

Another highlight of the meet-up was we got to visit Butter Baked Goods, an adorable pretty bakery that I always wanted to go. What a lovely place! I felt like I was taken to another fantasy world by its detailed hearty decor. And the wide array of cookies, bars, pastries, pies and cakes was simply impressive.

Naturally the little gathering just reminded me of their cookbook “Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes from a Little Neighborhood Bakery”. Inviting and great attention to details. So when I got home, I decided to give their bestselling Dream Slice a try because of the inclusion of cherries, walnuts and coconuts, all my favorite ingredients. I applied a few changes to the original recipe though. Not a big fan of maraschino cherries, I replaced them with fresh cherries. Because of the buttery crust and the sweet filling, I thought I would lighten up the dessert with a layer of lightly sweetened whipped cream on top, instead of buttercream. And they just tasted like what you would imagine with the ingredients listed – buttery, nutty, coconut and fruity! So easy to prepare and served up beautifully with some fresh cherries.

Ingredients (about 20 square bars):
Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
Cherry Filling
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking power
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
20 fresh cherries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan, and line with parchment paper.
To prepare the crust, pause all crust ingredients in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Press mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly golden brown.
To prepare the filling, sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, brown sugar and vanilla until pale in color, about 3 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
Add coconut, walnuts and cherries and mix until well combined.
Spread the filling evenly over the baked crust.
Baked for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is set and lightly brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
To prepare the topping, whisk the whipping cream and powdered sugar until it holds firm peaks. Gently spread a thick layer of whipped cream on top of the cherry filling.
Release the slab from pan. Cut it into squares. Serve with fresh cherries.

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