Remember that coconut jam we were wondering about last Friday? Well we didn't waste any time working it into a sweet treat...
We decided to treat it like caramel or dulce de leche and create a topping for an easy cookie bar or slice (as you Aussies say).
We made a modified shortbread recipe, adding an egg for a little more tenderness and softness. We also kept the sugar low and added some whole wheat.
The result is a relatively healthy treat - a treat and indulgence, yes, but one that is nutty with whole wheat and naturally sweet with the rich coconut jam. Coconut jam has a slight tang from the coconut milk - it's rich and slightly unusual for many American palates. We loved it, but found these rich. They're just right with a cup of hot milk tea, or even a glass of iced tea. (It's so hot out still.)
They're also super-easy - we loved how fast they came together! We also liked how they tasted a couple days later; the layers soaked together even more into a soft, crumbly bar with banana and coconut jam all smeared together. Yummy!
Coconut Jam and Banana Bars
12 ounces coconut jam
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large ripe bananas
1 cup pecans or walnuts
Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x13" baking pan with butter or baking spray. Heat the coconut jam in a small saucepan over low heat until very liquid and slightly bubbly.
Cream the butter and sugar until whipped and creamy, and beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the flour and salt until well-combined. Pat into the pan. Prick lightly with a fork and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
Peel and slice the bananas. Remove the partially-baked shortbread and cover with the sliced bananas. Pour the liquid coconut jam over top and sprinkle the nuts over top. Return to the oven. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Let cool completely before serving. The top will be sticky and soft, too, so it's best not to stack these bars on top of each other.
(Images: Faith Hopler)