Coconut-Citrus Bars

There is a new citrus bar in town.

Coconut-Citrus Bars
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Giulietta Pinna; Food Styling: Ali Ramee
Active Time:
30 mins
Bake Time:
45 mins
Cool Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
Chill Time:
6 hrs
Total Time:
9 hrs 45 mins

This holiday season, our Test Kitchen is reimagining one of the South's most iconic holiday dishes: Ambrosia. When ambrosia is mentioned, some may go back in time to imagine a crystal bowl containing a vivid, sweet mélange of oranges and coconut. But this holiday season, we're pushing the boundaries of what ambrosia can be, channeling many of the dish's signature flavors into a modern dessert. These Coconut-Citrus Bars pay tribute to the Southern sideboard staple that is ambrosia in a new, creative way.

When we're hosting for the holidays, we love to bake a variety of cookies and bars for guests to choose from. These vibrant Coconut-Citrus Bars will make a lovely addition to your dessert spread. Made with tangerine juice, cherry syrup, and a coconut crust, these cookies have the texture of lemon bars without the puckery tartness. It's important to chill the bars thoroughly before removing them from the pan, or the crust will be soft and bend. Feel free to make these ahead of time—the bars can be chilled in an airtight container up to five days. Top with citrus wedges just before serving.


  • 1 cup coconut flour

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened desiccated coconut, divided

  • 3 cups granulated sugar, divided

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces

  • 6 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon syrup from jarred maraschino cherries (such as Luxardo)

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus ½ cup fresh juice (from about 3 lemons)

  • 2 teaspoons grated tangerine or satsuma zest plus ½ cup fresh juice (from about 3 tangerines) 

  • Orange food coloring gel

  • 4 (1-inch-thick) sliced citrus rounds, each cut into 6 wedges (such as tangerine, satsuma, Ruby Red grapefruit, or blood orange)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom and sides of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil, leaving 2 to 3 inches overhang on all sides. Lightly coat foil with cooking spray.

  2. Pulse coconut flour, 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, ¾ cup of the desiccated coconut, ½ cup of the sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a food processor until well combined, about 5 pulses. Add butter, and pulse until mixture is crumbly, about 12 pulses. Press mixture evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes. Do not turn oven off.

  3. Whisk eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Add cherry syrup, lemon zest and juice, tangerine zest and juice, and remaining 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2½ cups sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk together until well combined and smooth. Using a wooden pick, add a small amount of orange food coloring gel. Stir until evenly incorporated, adding more food coloring until desired color. Pour mixture over crust. Return to oven, and bake at 350°F until filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer in pan to a wire rack, and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cover and chill until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.

  4. Remove from pan using foil overhang as handles. Cut bars into 24 (about 2-inch) squares. Cut a small square (about 4 inches) of parchment paper. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup desiccated coconut over bars, covering half of each bar at a diagonal, using parchment square as a guide to form a straight line. Top each bar with 1 citrus wedge.

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