Coconut Cream Pie Bars

by Julie Ruble on March 1, 2014 · 56 comments

Thanks, Foodie, for sponsoring this post. It’s pie month, so I made you some Coconut Cream Pie Bars!

Coconut Cream Pie Bars
Coconut Cream Pie Bars

Coconut Cream Pie Bars

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking with filling adapted from All Recipes
Yield: 12-16 bars, depending on size


Crust Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup icing sugar

Coconut Cream Filling Ingredients:
3 cups half-and-half
3 cups coconut milk
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping Ingredients:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon cold water (for stabilizing)
1 teaspoon gelatin (for stabilizing)
3-4 tablespoons icing sugar
1 cup coconut, for toasting

Make shortbread crust: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 x 13 in. baking dish with a foil sling (I use one long sheet across the length of my dish, and two overlapping short sheets across the width of my dish — just arrange it so that it has some overlap and overhang to help you pull the bars out after they’re finished). Cut the butter into the flour and icing sugar and press into the baking dish (I used a food processor to cut the fat into the flour — about 6-10 pulses — and then the bottom of a glass to press the mixture into the pan). Bake 18-20 minutes or until light brown. Set on a wire rack.

Toast coconut for the topping: Spread about 1 cup of the coconut flakes out on a baking sheet and bake in the oven along with your shortbread crust for 3-6 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the coconut is golden brown. Spread it out on a plate to cool completely.

Make coconut cream filling: Combine the half-and-half, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until it’s thick and bubbling (this can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Just do it. It’s worth it.) Add coconut and vanilla extracts and the 1 1/2 cups of untoasted coconut and stir. Pour this filling over your cooled crust, letting it cool for a bit on the counter before sticking the whole thing in the fridge to chill until firm, about 2 to 4 hours.

Make whipped cream topping: Put 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top. Let it soften for 2 minutes before microwaving it for 30 seconds and whisking to dissolve the gelatin. Using a chilled bowl and beater, whisk the 2 cups of heavy cream and icing sugar together until the cream forms stiff peaks, stopping to add gelatin mixture about halfway through. Dollop the cream over your bars and gently spread it around. Sprinkle on toasted coconut. Chill until ready to serve to let the whipped cream set up. Use the sling to pull the bars out of the dish, slice with a sharp knife, and enjoy!

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

lynn @ the actor's diet March 1, 2014 at 10:46 pm

I wanted a turtle so badly my entire childhood after reading Judy Blume’s “Tales of a 4th grade Nothing.” I finally bought one for myself in college, my freshman year (they were illegal in NJ where I grew up). Unfortunately, a prefrosh wound up killing my turtle (long story) but the 9 months I had her were glorious – though difficult! Scrubbing your hands before/after everything, cleaning that aquarium, etc. are too much for a busy college student.

Reply March 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Julie, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post. I am still smiling and expect I will for the remainder of the evening. Your coconut cream pie bars do, indeed, look amazing. Didn’t realize that I could smile and drool at the same time!


Kate c March 1, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Oh my gosh, that is the most adorable story EVER!!! You should do a survey of how many readers actually googled turtle penises…as I am going to do out of basic curiosity after typing this. My brother went through a similar animal rescue situation with a bunny. He was fostering it for the shelter. It came to them with a broken hind leg. My bro had to try to keep said bunny from hopping…which never worked out well. After 5 (seriously) surgeries (thankfully, paid for by the shelter), bunny got the bad leg amputated…and now lives blissfully with my brother, sister in law, and two kitty sisters…bouncing around, albeit a bit lopsidedly. Rescue pets are the best!!!


Holly March 2, 2014 at 1:07 am

I’m surprised you didn’t mention how long turtles live. They can live 30+ years, so they really are a long-term investment. We started with five baby red-eared sliders in a 5-gallon aquarium which led to a 20-gallon tank and eventually a backyard pond. I never used a filter but changed the water often. The pond has a huge filter, though, and a heater so they don’t have to hibernate in the winter. We have a total of 12 turtles now, not because they reproduced, but because we were given a lot of turtles that people got tired of taking care of.


Miriam March 2, 2014 at 5:19 am

Best story on a blog post EVER. The coconut cream pie bars look heavenly and will be made, but coming in 2nd place to that story :) Gee, I wonder if the chick who hated reading through all the “stuff” will pin this one? I wonder if she will Google Turtle Penises? Thanks for starting of my Sunday off right!


Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks March 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm

God bless you and your turtle, Julie. I am reading this in a cafe, wishing I were in the privacy of my own home so I could google turtle penises. Dangit.


Catpro March 2, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Best blog story I’ve ever read and I have my favorite dessert – coconut cream pie – to thank once again. Will be following you from now on for future updates, Julie.


cheri March 3, 2014 at 9:53 am

What a sweet story. Love the coconut bars!


dina March 3, 2014 at 10:30 am

it looks delicious!


Vickie H. March 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I adore a great rescue story! What a blessing for Squirt that you care so much and have repeatedly taken the necessary steps to provide him with good quality of life! Kudos to you! And I can’t wait to make the Coconut Pie Bars! Look SCRUMPTIOUS!!!


Laura Dembowski March 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I think most pets are a lot of work, but worth it because of the joy they give in return. I would be willing to do any amount of work for these bars – they are perfection!


Jennifer | Bake or Break March 3, 2014 at 3:48 pm

These bars look so good! I love coconut anything!


Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onion March 4, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I had no idea they were they much trouble. But like with most pets, they always seem to be worth the trouble, Great cake!


Jenny @ BAKE March 8, 2014 at 3:03 am

Wow that’s a lot of work! it makes having a dog sound easy! This post had me laughing at my screen and reading portions to my boyfriend. And on top of that these coconut bars look incredible!


Donna Barstow March 12, 2014 at 1:52 am

I was looking at dessert blogs to see how big the images are (yours are the biggest!) and had no idea I’d come across a post on turtles with photos of pies!

I had turtles when I was little (when they were legal), and then bought one myself after college (illegally). They’ve done good research on food now, to keep them alive. And in the LA sun, mine kept growing and growing and growing…I finally gave him to someone who had a backyard pond for him. He was very smart, and now I wonder if I did the right thing…but otherwise I had to keep putting him in the bathtub…and then change the water.


Myra March 17, 2014 at 6:52 am

Hilarious! I loved the pictures of treats interspersed throughout the turtle tale! (seriously going to make those)

We have a rescue tortoise, and you’re absolutely right- they have HUGE personalities! I never would’ve dreamed our Thor would have such a wide variety of expressions, much less be so lovable!

But yeah, those vet bills… Yeesh.

Thanks for the laugh! Turtle Peen: A great way to start the day. :D


Karen March 28, 2014 at 5:11 am

Could you please tell me how to make half and half we dont have that inAustralia.


Julie Ruble March 28, 2014 at 8:10 am

Sure, it’s just one part milk to one part cream. Enjoy :)


Linda Slaby March 28, 2014 at 10:05 am

I came to this site because of the yummy looking Coconut Cream bars…… the next thing I know I’m lost in
a cute story about a rescue turtle! Thanks so much for a great resipes and wonderful story.
I can’t wait to try your other resipes because they all look terrific!


Kim April 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm

This is probably a stupid question, but what is icing sugar?


Julie Ruble April 3, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Not stupid! Icing sugar is also called powdered sugar, 10X sugar, or confectioners’ sugar.


Patricia April 5, 2014 at 11:54 am

Holy cow! That looks so amazing. Having a little birthday tea on Sunday. Gonna make the coconut cream filling to go inside the coconut cupcakes. Your blog is dangerous!


Joanna Flaherty April 6, 2014 at 11:44 am

Hi…I am a fan of coconut cream anything…but have gluten issues…have you tried making them GF or has anyone else done it and commented ?


Julie Ruble April 6, 2014 at 11:59 am

I haven’t tried it, but I think the crust would work with a gluten-free flour mix. If you try, please let us know how it goes!


Cheryl December 13, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Gluten-Free Pastry (food processor* method)

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar
Ice water to make 1/2 cup

1 With metal blade in place, add sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.

2 In 1/2-cup measure, combine lemon juice or vinegar and ice water. Pour over all of flour mixture; pulse for six 1-second pulses or just until dough forms large clumps; do not over-process.

3 Do not refrigerate dough at this point as I do with regular all-butter pie crust. Turn dough out onto lightly floured (gluten-free, of course) surface–a piece of plastic wrap makes it easier. Form dough into a round disk, sprinkle lightly with gluten-free flour–topping it with another piece of plastic wrap makes it easier–and roll out to 12- to 13-inch circle. Transfer to Pyrex pie plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Crimp the edge in your favorite way, then pop the pie plate into the freezer while you prepare pie filling.


RoxanneMarino April 10, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Julie: Like everyone else went looking for the coconut cream recipe..and found this oh so true story about Squirt the rescue slider. My daughter also rescued a LARGE female slider and gave her me as a birthday gift..
We have an out door pond/waterfall so she had a beautiful home to live in…until this “handsome” boy walked up the street looking for his “new” soul mate.. My husband said “no way” Tillie is doing just fine all by herself.. But no way..I said , he’ll just get crushed by a car or die from some horrable death…As usual I won this debate and Shelden can to live in our pond with Tillie. One year later..we see Tillie digging a very large hole..It took her over two hours to make it just right, then out popped 15 little eggs. What a great experience. We even took pic’s…6 cluches later, over a two year period we would have 32 baby turtles, in the house in tanks from 5 to 150 gals.
I laughed so hard about the problems you had with your one turtle, just have 32 babies in various sized tanks, all because I said..Sheldon could enjoy Tillie’s house..We kept the hachlings until they reached 4″ legal size to be sold…or given away.. This process wound up costing lost on money. I just kept wonder if I could neuter Sheldon and that would be the end of that….But having an outdoor pond is not animal proof. One night a family of raccoon’s stopped by, pulled Sheldon out of his nesting house and damaged his beautiful long finger nails and front legs..We had to put him down. He is buried directly across from the pond where 4 of his daughters share a home with there mom. We have reinforced the pond to animal proof it. So Tillie, Millie, Kelly, Shelly and baby girl, all bask in the warmth of the California sun. By the way…we never did get to see the purple thing coming out of his body. But did witness his mating dance, waving those beautiful long nails in front of Tillie’s face…I guess putting her in his trance. What a beautiful time to share this experience…
Thanks for your story of Squirt…Hope you enjoyed the life and times of the Red Ear slider family. .


elizabeth April 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Have you tried topping these bars with coconut whipped cream instead of regular whipped cream? I might try that unless there are recommendations against it, if it might throw off the sweetness factor or something!


Julie Ruble April 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm

I would go for it, Elizabeth, maybe just slightly sweetened. It sounds wonderful!


Valerie April 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Whats half and half? I would like to make these Cocnut bars


Julie Ruble April 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm
Joy April 16, 2014 at 6:58 am

When you say coconut milk, do you use kind in can or carton? Tks


Julie Ruble April 16, 2014 at 7:36 am

The kind in a can.


Joy April 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Thank you … And do you shake the can and use all of it or only the solid?


Julie Ruble April 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Shake and use :)


Alina April 16, 2014 at 6:51 pm

These look amazing! I’m totally making these for Easter. Do you use sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes?


Julie Ruble April 16, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Thanks! Hope you love them, Alina! I used sweetened coconut flakes.


Ann April 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Can’t wait to try this!


Lark April 20, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Hello! I found your blog while I was at another site – your lovely photos of your coconut pie bars sucked me right in. And after I clicked on the link, your turtle story did the same. It was funny and seriously touching. Good on you for taking such good care of your friend! The world needs more like you. :-) I am looking forward to trying these delicious looking treats and exploring the rest of your recipes. My coconut loving family is looking forward to it, too!


Kathy April 25, 2014 at 5:03 pm

So you use sweetened or unsweetened coconut milk?


Julie Ruble April 25, 2014 at 5:33 pm



Pat May 5, 2014 at 11:09 pm

What is icing sugar? Do you mean powdered sugar or what? I have never heard of icing sugar. I would love to make this Coconut cream pie bar , it really looks good. I don’t want to mess it up by putting in the wrong sugar.


Julie Ruble May 5, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Yes, icing sugar is also called powdered sugar, 10X sugar, and confectioners’ sugar.


Patti May 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Have NO idea how a coconut cream pie bar got mixed in with the turtle story, but I just loved the turtle story (haven’t tried the bars yet). I am the crazy woman stopping traffic in the Tampa Bay area to help turtles (and tortoises) get across the street before they are squashed. Love turtles and love your story. Thanks so much for the photo of Squirt ( and for the coconut bar recipe!!).


lesley May 23, 2014 at 12:02 am

Making these tomorrow! Do I use salted or unsalted butter?


Julie Ruble May 23, 2014 at 3:41 am

Unsalted. Hope you enjoy!


lesley May 23, 2014 at 11:25 pm

One more question-sorry-do I use sweetened coconut milk thats in a can-like the kind youd make a pineapple/coconut drink with?


Julie Ruble May 24, 2014 at 7:51 am

Yep, the canned coconut milk (mine is unsweetened). Usually in the Asian food aisle or with the canned milks (evaporated milk, etc.) on the baking aisle.


lesley May 24, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Thanks! Got it cooling now-added a bit more coconut extract, hopefully not too sweet. Thanks again!


Suzanne September 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Do you think you could use the light canned coconut milk? Or only the full fat regular? Can’t wait to make these!


Julie Ruble September 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm

I’d only use the full fat just to be sure it will work. Thanks, Suzanne!


roxanne September 22, 2014 at 9:14 pm

looks goo


Gertrude December 4, 2014 at 9:25 am

Julie, do you think these squares would freeze? I am thinking maybe not but hoping yes. ;)


Julie Ruble December 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Hi Gertrude! Unfortunately I feel like they wouldn’t freeze well. Now I’m totally the kind of person who would try it anyway and eat them in whatever state they ended up in, but I’m almost certain they wouldn’t be “like new.” Ha! Usually creamy-type things separate or get weird when frozen.


Cindy December 16, 2014 at 8:22 pm

This is a fantastic recipe and serves many! When I bring it to staff luncheons it always gets raves. Thanks very much for sharing.


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