Coconut Caramel Shortbread Bars
I love classic millionaire's shortbread bars, but I wanted to switch things up. After a few different experiments, I found these coconut caramel shortbread bars to be the perfect twist! The classic homemade shortbread is crisp and buttery. It's then covered in a homemade caramel that is full of toasted coconut creating a chewy texture with a slightly tropical flavor. And instead of a traditional chocolate ganache, I opted for a white chocolate ganache which paired perfectly with the flavor of the coconut. Because the ganache is made with white chocolate, it's easy to use food coloring and give it a color of your choice! Although the process has multiple steps and takes a bit of time to let the layers set, this is a relatively easy recipe and highly recommended.
Coconut Caramel Shortbread Bars
COCONUT CARAMEL SAUCE
- 1 cup | Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- ¾ cup | Granulated Sugar
- 1 tablespoon | Fresh Lemon Juice
- ¼ cup | Water
- ¼ cup | Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 tablespoons | Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon | Sea Salt Flakes
- 1 ¼ sticks | Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
- ¼ cup | Granulated Sugar
- 1 cup | All-purpose Flour
- ¼ cup | Cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon | Kosher Salt
WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
- 12 ounces | White Chocolate
- ½ cup | Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 dashes | Red Food Coloring (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange a thin layer of shredded coconut on baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes. Remove, stir shredded coconut around to even toasting and bake for an additional 3 minutes until golden brown. Set aside.
- Whisk sugar, lemon juice and water in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. You can occasionally stir or use a heat resistant food brush to ensure sugar around the edge doesn’t burn. Once mixture reaches a dark amber, remove from heat, about 10-15 minutes. Watch this part closely as it can burn in a second. This depends on your burner temperature and on cooler days it’s sometimes taken me closer to 18 minutes.
- Immediately add cream and butter, whisking until completely incorporated and caramel is glossy. Add toasted coconut and sea salt flakes, combine and let cool at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350° F and place rack in the center of the oven. Cut an 8x12-inch parchment paper rectangle and place inside baking dish so that two sides of the baking dish have parchment paper with an overhang. This will ensure an easy release! Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, combine butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed until creamy. Add flour, cornstarch and salt and mix on low speed until dough forms.
- Place shortbread dough into prepared baking dish, spreading evenly with your hands, making sure to get the dough in the corners. It will be about ¼-inch thick and take a few minutes to get uniform. Using a fork, prick the shortbread in a pattern. I made ten fork pricks vertically per row and six rows horizontally.
- Bake shortbread for 15 minutes. Rotate baking dish to ensure an even bake and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until shortbread is a lightly browned and a toasty pale color. Cool the shortbread in the baking dish for 30 minutes.
- While shortbread cools, place cooled coconut caramel in fridge so it can begin to harden, about 30 minutes.
- Place white chocolate in a heat resistant bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set aside. Using a small saucepan, heat cream over low heat until warmed and simmering. Pour over white chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add red food coloring (optional) and mix together with fork until white chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside and let cool at room temperature.
- Once shortbread has cooled and coconut caramel has hardened, remove coconut caramel from fridge and mix together. It should be sticky but malleable. Pour over shortbread and use butterknife to gently spread evenly. Be careful not to push too hard or you might break the shortbread. Return to fridge for another 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove from fridge and pour cooled white chocolate ganache over coconut caramel layer and use butterknife to gently spread evenly. Return to fridge for at least 2 hours before cutting.
- Serve immediately or store leftovers in wrapped plastic or airtight container in fridge.