Chocolate Dipped Coconut Caramel-Honey Shortbread

May 3, 2014

coconut caramel-honey shortbread | une gamine dans la cuisine

"May, and among the miles of leafing,
blossoms storm out of the darkness."

~ Mary Oliver, first line from "May"

Occasionally I go through periods of immense restlessness, I cannot sit still for a respectable amount of time and sleeps is frustratingly elusive. It's a smorgasbord of insoluble agitation and hazy longing; a moth with a light, albeit immovable, pebble pressed upon the very tip of one wing. This fluttery disquiet usually coincides with the onset of spring and autumn. Spring is late this year, I was hoping I'd slipped passed April discretely enough to avoid the biannual itch, yet here I sit, disheveled and tired and spinning in memorizing green & gold carousel circles.

Coconut, my toothsome Achilles heel. When the world is uneven, I find an almost manic joy in baking with an ingredient that few other people (I know) appreciate. Selfishness has its soft, subtle perks.

coconut caramel-honey shortbread | une gamine dans la cuisine

Because I grew up in a household where fruit and cheese were considered "dessert," I used to literally plunge into my hidden cache of Girl Scout cookies (oh, how I saved up in advance for one or two precious boxes!). Samoas were, and always shall be, my absolute favourite. They're ridiculously & pleasantly, addictive. I still cannot resist buying a purple box (or three) every spring...maybe Thin Mints too, for good measure and a sugar-deprived freezer.

These bars are basically lionized Samoas. I was a little bit worried about the filling; in the past I have used honey to make caramel but not on such a massive scale (1 cup) scale. Thankfully it turned out beautifully. Honey lends caramel a cosy, floral aftertaste. The base is a crisp, buttery, cinnamon *tinged* shortbread; a slightly spiced-up detour from Samoas. Of course this recipe wouldn't be complete without a stately amount of coconut, blissfully toasted, and a kiss of dark chocolate.

I'm setting aside a special place in my heart for this recipe, it's one of my personal favourites. Comfort food is an overused phrase but I believe these shortbread bars slide lovingly into that category. During the past few nights I found myself padding to the fridge, wrapping a bar inside a piece of paper towel, padding back into a warm bed and reading with my coconut-laced companion. Errant flakes and crumbs found the following morning were sweet reminders that I did capture sleep, eventually.

coconut caramel-honey shortbread | une gamine dans la cuisine

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Caramel-Honey Bars
makes about 20-24 bars

for the coconut
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut

for the shortbread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 ounces (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the caramel
1 cup honey (I used clover honey)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the chocolate dip
8 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Toast the coconut. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread coconut out into an even layer over parchment and bake for about 13-17 minutes, or until coconut is golden brown. {Remove sheet from oven and carefully stir coconut around halfway through baking.} Set coconut aside to cool.

Shortbread: Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper, allowing the parchment to overhang on two sides. Lightly butter/spray entire pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon; set aside. In stand mixer bowl, combine butter and sugar. Using the paddle attachment, beat on med-high speed for about 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in any remaining streaks of flour. Using floured hands, press dough into bottom of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove shortbread from refrigerator and prick dough with the tines of a fork. Bake 25-30 minutes or until shortbread is light golden brown. Remove pan from oven and place onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Caramel: Have toasted coconut, cooled pan of shortbread, and an offset spatula near by. In a medium saucepan, gently stir together the honey, sugars, and 2 Tablespoons of water. {Try not to splash the sugars onto the sides of saucepan whilst stirring.) Stirring occasionally, cook over low heat just until sugars dissolve. Increase heat to med-high and without stirring, cook until caramel reaches 240-245 F. on a candy thermometer.

While caramel cooks, combine cream and sweet milk in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until warm (do not allow the mixture to boil). Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

Once the caramel has reached 240 F (it should be amber in colour), remove pan from heat and carefully stir in the chopped butter & warm cream mixture until combined. Place pan back on med-heat and without stirring, bring caramel back to 245-250 F.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Fold in about 2 cups of the toasted coconut (don't worry about being too precise). Pour caramel over shortbread and, working quickly, use the offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle remaining coconut over caramel and use the back of a large spoon or spatula to gently press down until coconut adheres. Cool to room temperature, then transfer pan to refrigerator. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove shortbread from fridge. Use the parchment paper overhang to remove the shortbread from pan. If the caramel is sticking to the pan, run a knife along the edges to loosen. Spray a sharp, serrated knife with cooking spray and slice the caramel shortbread into squares or rectangles. Place sliced bars onto parchment paper-line baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate dip: Prepare a double boiler - Fill a medium saucepan with about 1-inch of water and bring the water to a slow simmer. Find a large heatproof bowl that fits snugly over the saucepan (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch simmering water). Place chopped chocolate into heatproof bowl and place the bowl over simmering water. Stir chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat.

Remove sliced bars from fridge and dip each one halfway into melted chocolate (or use a spoon to drizzle chocolate over bars). Place chocolate-dipped bars back onto baking sheet and refrigerate until chocolate is set (about 15 minutes).

The bars can be enjoyed immediately or you can cover them in an airtight container and refrigerate for about three days (I doubt they will last that long!).

recipe adapted from Baked Elements  


  1. My mouth is officially watering! These look ABSOLUTELY DIVINE! This is a must make!!!

  2. These bars are beautiful, thank you for the recipe!

  3. Gorgeous bars! I've been playing with coconut all day so these shortbread are calling my name :).

  4. Valerie, I'm not sure which I love more, coconut or shortbread cookies. You have brought both together in a truly delicious sounding recipe.

  5. I wasn't allowed sugar until I was five so I often joke that I'm still making up for lost time! My sweet tooth is aching at the thought of biting into one of these delicious shortbread pieces!

  6. Lovely bars! So tempting...



  7. These bars are comfort food. Damn good looking ones too! bring on the coconut.

  8. I never sit still, BUT I WOULD if these bars were hanging out with me!

  9. Shortbread is my favourite cookie and I have a tendency to forget about it when it isn't Christmas...I need to stop that. The coconut addition is perfect. Hope your disquiet is fleeting.

  10. I have to make these pronto! They look divine!

  11. I don't experience restlessness, but I do experience insomnia at the change of seasons. I'm used to it now, so it doesn't bother me. These squares are selfish in the best possible way!

  12. Ah - I don't think "comfort" is an overused word when it comes to these - they look amazing! I love coconut and use it a lot in baked goods.

  13. I did the same thing because dessert was fruit (no cheese) so I saved up money too for boxes of cookies that I would hide from my sister. These look amazing!!!!

  14. these look so delicious Valerie! Love love love this post!

  15. I always love your posts, they are always a twist on classic recipes

  16. These bars look delicious and tempting!

  17. These look even better than Samoas. I most definitely appreciate coconut. These are perfect for snacking.


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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