Maybe Matilda: Graham Cracker Coconut Bars

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Graham Cracker Coconut Bars

This post is sponsored by Honey Maid.

I have a large extended family, and it’s an extremely rare day that we all end up in the same place at the same time. So it was fantastic to be able to catch up with my grandma, as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins that I haven’t seen in years, at a family picnic last week. 

One of the treats that my aunt made for our get-together was these Graham Cracker Coconut Bars. I can remember my mom making these for me and my siblings when we were kids, then making them myself from the recipe in our family cookbook. I’ve brought them to parties and picnics and baby showers for friends, and I always get a request for the recipe (which I hope isn’t a family secret, since I’ve been handing it out all these years).

Graham Cracker Coconut Bars

And I have to say, there was something special about eating a traditional family dessert while surrounded by family members at our picnic recently. We’ve all changed over the years in countless ways, but this one dessert has been a constant. I’ve been eating it--and now making it--for my entire life. I can remember sitting at the kitchen table as a little kid to eat these bars, and now I’m serving them to my own kids. So many awesome family connections and memories involved with one simple food.

Graham Cracker Coconut Bars

They make the perfect picnic food since they’re so easy to make ahead, transport, and eat without any utensils. If you have a 4th of July family picnic coming up, go ahead and make these delicious bars. You will be so glad you did.

To start, I like to line my baking sheet with lightly sprayed foil first to make cleanup easier. Then lay out full graham crackers to cover the pan.

Graham Cracker Coconut Bars

You’ll make an amazing coconut, nut, and caramel filling in about 5 minutes on the stovetop, then pour it over the graham crackers.

And spread to cover them completely.

graham cracker coconut picnic bars

Another layer of graham crackers covers the filling.

graham cracker coconut picnic bars

And finally, a layer of homemade frosting finishes them off. They’re delicious right away, but infinitely better after they’ve had time to sit. If I’m bringing these bars to a get-together, I always try and make them a few hours ahead of time, or even the day before.

graham cracker bars

They make the perfect picnic treat, so if you’re looking for a dessert to bring to your 4th of July family party, look no further. This is the one.

Graham Cracker Coconut Bars
recipe slightly adapted from my aunt Miriam in our family cookbook

For bars:
1 cup butter
½ cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chopped walnuts (divided--I like to reserve some for topping)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 sleeves whole graham crackers

For frosting:
⅓ cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk

Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil and spraying lightly with nonstick spray. Cover the bottom of the baking sheet with whole graham crackers.

In a medium bowl over medium heat, combine butter, milk, brown sugar, and egg. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 2 minutes. Add coconut, ⅔ cup nuts, and graham cracker crumbs, and stir to combine.

Pour coconut mixture over graham crackers in pan, and spread evenly to cover the crackers. Top with remaining graham cracker sheets to cover the filling.

In a medium bowl, combine butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add milk as necessary to make a smooth, spreadable consistency. Spread frosting over bars, and top with reserved nuts. Let sit for several hours or overnight before cutting and serving.

I love making and sharing these bars with my family, and hopefully you’ll love sharing them with your family this July 4th!

No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will. Honey Maid provides wholesome snacks for every wholesome family.


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