Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie Bars

by Julie Ruble on April 7, 2014 · 40 comments

Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie Bars
Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie Bars

Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie Bars



Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, with filling adapted from All Recipes
Yield: 9 bars

These Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie Bars are an incredible mixture of coconut cream pie and strawberry cream pie — just perfect for a beautiful spring dessert. Seriously, they are SO GOOD. They’re easy to make, too (no pie crust rolling)!

Crust Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

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

Topping Ingredients:
1 1/2 strawberries (I had some leftover, but I always buy two packs just in case)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
red food coloring (optional; I skipped this)

Directions:
Make shortbread crust: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare an 8-inch square baking pan by lining it with parchment paper. Cut the butter into the flour and powdered 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 to cool.

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 10-20 minutes. Just do it. It’s worth it.) Add coconut and vanilla extracts and the shredded 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.

Assemble and make glaze: Slice most of a pound of strawberries in thin slices lengthwise and layer the slices in pretty alternating diagonal rows on the top of the coconut cream. Set this in the fridge to chill while you make your glaze.

Crush remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries and boil with water in a saucepan over medium-high heat for two minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the pulp. Pour a little of the resulting strawberry juice into the glass with the cornstarch and stir to make a slurry. Put the rest of the juice back into the saucepan over medium-high heat and gradually whisk in sugar and cornstarch slurry. Cook until thickened. If you want, you can tint this glaze with food coloring to desired hue, but mine was plenty bright enough! Cool the glaze slightly (I transferred mine to a heat-proof measuring cup with a pour spout to cool for a bit) and then pour over top of strawberry slices on your pie. Chill bars before serving.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Charbel April 7, 2014 at 10:07 am

This looks fantastic! Definitely going on my list of things to make!

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Rebecca {foodie with family} April 7, 2014 at 10:12 am

As much as I respect what you’re saying, if you put that beautiful pan of cream pie bars in front of my face I wouldn’t hear a word you were saying. :D GOSH those are pretty. And my grandpa, a preacher, always said, “Love is the final rule.” Do all these things in love, right? If we’re loving, we’re at least giving it our best.

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AKM April 7, 2014 at 10:27 am

Amen, and Amen to all that you have posted above. I so appreciate your having worked through this in your thought, and I truly believe you’ve been guided by the Holy Spirit to see this. Love is the ONLY way–God is LOVE. “…he that loveth not his brother (or sister) whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?” (I John 4:20) When we express love, we are expressing/glorifying/magnifying God. We are following Christ’s example, and there is no better path to follow! Thank you for having the courage to post your thoughts. God Bless!

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar April 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

These bars look perfect!! So yummy.

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Belinda@themoonblushbaker April 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I am heart broken that strawberry season is over in Australia! These look perfect!

Love your thoughts on your religion; so refreshing!

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Paula-bell'alimento April 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I know these would not stand a chance in my house, exactly while I’ll make them during the day when everyone else is at school ; )

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julia April 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

These scream summer! I love them!

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K April 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

thanks for sharing your thoughts/heart. as i was reading through it i totally thought “ME TOO!” – it’s so easy to get insulated/closed-minded. thanks for the #realtalk =P

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Kat April 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Julie Ruble, my respect level for you just elevated so high that the meter broke!
I think you’ll find that the more supporting, loving, and inclusive folks in our society aren’t nearly as verbal, nor are they as loud, as the haters seem to be. Sometimes lovers feel very alone. Lovers aren’t alone, we just don’t react to, or retaliate against the haters. There’s no use wasting a bit of energy on them–so we don’t. Besides, we’re lovers! We don’t even hate on the haters.
Welcome to the light!

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Brooke April 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm

I’m not a Christian, but I love this post. I think it applies to all of us, really, whatever your belief system. As an agnostic, it’s very easy to keep others at a distance whose beliefs do not match mine, or to look down my nose at them, even if it is in secret. And that’s not fair or loving or even Christ-like. Thank you for your honesty and for reminding us “Perfect love casts out fear”…

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Chandelle April 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I’m not religious, but I appreciate your sentiments here. Some Christians I know are friendly (not just looking to convert), kind, forgiving, open, and humble. Some definitely are not. I’m more inclined to trust and honor the beliefs of the former, and be suspicious and resentful of the latter. Just sayin’. And I’m definitely going to make these ASAP. I might try to use all coconut milk for a dairy-free friend.

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Meghan @ nestMeg April 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm

You always take amazing photos, but these are particularly delectable.

As always, I love your writing for its honesty and vulnerability.

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Kelly April 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm

I hear what you’re saying and I’m 100% on board with you, except when I’m not. I’m struggling right now with a friend that I’ve known forever and is currently (maybe just recently, maybe I’ve been in the dark all along) doing cocaine. I’m saddened and disappointed and don’t know if our friendship can sustain this. Just food for thought…where do you draw the line? I’m struggling because I have a child now and I never want to expose him to this kind of thing. But your post has made me wonder if I judged her too harshly.

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Julie Ruble April 7, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Woo, Kelly. That is so rough. I don’t know the right answer.

I do know that it’s not that I don’t believe some things are definitely wrong, and definitely hurtful (I always use the example of murder) — more just that we don’t always know what they are, and when we do, we sometimes see it as worse than the wrong things we do, which are actually all symptoms of the same problem. So I guess it’s not about saying, “It’s okay that you’re doing cocaine,” but about a radical empathy: if my life shape were different, I could see myself there. And someone other than me might feel the way about me that I’m struggling with feeling about her right now. So from there, how do I proceed and live out that knowledge? Certainly not by cheering on drug use, I think, surely? But maybe it’s with an eye toward understanding her situation more. Even if that doesn’t mean you stick with her. And maybe NOT sticking with her won’t be because she’s Other in your eyes, but because that’s better for her — better for her to get in the right space instead of to be enabled. So maybe in this case the actions you take might look like the exclusion I mentioned, but be prompted from a different place in you, and maybe that makes all the difference?

Just jotting down my thoughts as they form. What do you think? I also want to share this amazing article that might add to the discussion: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/mar/09/russell-brand-life-without-drugs

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Lisa R. April 7, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Thank you, Julie, for both recipe and reminder. It is so easy to get caught up in following a set of rules and foregoing the relationships. People are messy. I like things neat and orderly. Rules comfort me. But as my life becomes full of people, it becomes richer and fuller. I have become an advocate for refugees in Charlotte, many of whom do not speak much English, so my message is in my life and countenance and actions instead of words. I am finding much less space in my heart for judging. But there is always room for strawberries! (One refugee friend helps me with my garden and we can’t wait until the strawberry plants start producing! Maybe she and I can make these bars then!)

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Julie Ruble April 7, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Yes! I think that’s just it, too, Lisa! Rules are so comforting. Rules and facts that we can hold onto — they create boundaries for us that we can understand. How much safer that feels than really living in freedom and trusting God to show us what that means through His Word and Holy Spirit. Yikes!

Thank you for the work you do with refugees. I know you must form such wonderful relationships and mean so much to them!

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Fran@fransfavs.com April 7, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Julie, you warm my heart with your words and I wish that all Christians could believe as you (we) do. This country was founded on freedom of religion, yet all too often many Christians look down at people of other religions and try to foist their beliefs on them. My sister and her partner have been together for over 40 years. You would be hard-pressed to find two kinder, generous or more loving people. Happily, they were able to be married several years ago when the state they live in legalized gay marriage. I feel sorry for anyone who would try to deny two people who love each other their legal rights. Whatever happened to live and let live? If everyone, no matter their religion, just practiced the Golden Rule and followed the Ten Commandments and kept their noses out of everyone else’s business (not to mention bedroom), the world would certainly be a better place! Thank you for your wise words and your refreshing honesty.

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cheri April 7, 2014 at 11:16 pm

These bars looks amazing, I absolutely adore these. Just pinned.

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Fran@fransfavs.com April 7, 2014 at 11:19 pm

p.s. How could I forget to mention?!! Your bars look absolutely amazing and decadently drool-worthy! Making them as soon as I can.

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Cathy Milne April 8, 2014 at 1:01 am

These look absolutely fabulous!! I am definitely adding this recipe to my summer baking list. My family grows strawberries in our garden. I have to fight to get them in the house because my grandsons and roomy eat them straight from the garden.

Tomorrow I will be making a similar recipe; Strawberry Cheesecake Brownie Bars! Yummy!
I found this recipe on Homecooking. about.com ( I have them on my blog)
Here is the link: http://homecooking.about.com/od/cookierecipes/r/blcookie74.htm

Cathy the BaggLady

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Andrea April 8, 2014 at 8:52 am

Oh my – those look soooo good. Might you have any suggestions for what to use instead of the eggs (I love eggs but can’t have ‘em)

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Julie Ruble April 8, 2014 at 9:08 am

Thanks Andrea! No eggs stumps me, unfortunately. I’m wondering if you might enjoy doing a coconut mousse instead of the coconut pastry cream? Something like this mousse: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-leung/sense-of-taste-coconut-mousse-cake_b_4647383.html

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Andrea April 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Thanks! Going to try that!

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Suzan cox April 8, 2014 at 9:06 am

I’m not clear on amount of strawberries.

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Julie Ruble April 8, 2014 at 9:07 am

You will probably need about a cup and a half, but I buy 2 flats at the grocery store (1-lb each) so I don’t worry about running short if I slice the strawberries thicker, etc.

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Cassie May 13, 2014 at 5:09 am

Adorably, the recipe says “1 1/2 strawberries,” which is a seriously cute typo but means you would need to slice the strawberry and a half in nanometer slices to get the bars covered.

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Anne April 8, 2014 at 9:46 am

So, your commentary was a bit of a surprise, not an unwelcome one, but still, a surprise. I think, most Christians struggle with what you are talking about here, and I suspect, the truth is to be found somewhere in the struggle. On the one hand, we have Paul telling the Corinthians,
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”
And on the other hand, we have the truth in what you are saying. But I think where we are asked to draw the line is with “any man that is called a brother.” Paul was talking about a man who was a proclaimed Christian, and yet, openly sleeping with his own mother. Paul did not ask the Corinthians to hate this man, but rather, by drawing a clear line in the sand, to thus communicate to him (and his mother) that what he was doing was not acceptable behavior for a Christian. This can be a bit of a tightrope walk at times, because you have to be able to identify “a brother.” Your so-called “brother in Christ” who questioned your Christianity because of what you may or may not believe about gay marriage has grossly misappropriated the scriptures. It happens. But how do you communicate to someone who professes Christianity that something like sleeping with their own mother is not okay? But there is a difference between a non-believer and someone who profresses Christianity. I think a lot of Christians believe that it is their duty to hold non-Christians to biblical standards, and why would we do that? If the non-Christian can keep the law and behave in a more loving way than the Christian, then perhaps the non-Christian does not need Christ. Jesus did not die so that we could be more loiving, he died so that we can be forgiven. But if we don’t need forgiveness, then do we even need Christ? It is precisely because we have been forgiven that we can become more loving. But to turn a blind eye, within the fellowship of the believers, to behavior that God calls sin is a different story alltogether, and this is where it becomes a mater of discerning the spirits, and a bit of a tightrope walk. I think you are correct in your assessment of how Christians should behave in the world. It is our calling to lead others to Christ, but sadly, sometimes that leading to Christ demands that we speak the truth in ways that are not going to be comfortable for others. I am not suggesting that Christians need to run around telling non-believers what they are doing is wrong. The truth is, we all have a conscience that testifys against us when we are wrong. I’m not sure the Christian’s duty is to attempt to out-shout the bible, or the conscience, on matters of right and wrong. We were called to something better, and we do need to love one another, and we also need to recognize that we are all sinners, saved by grace. I realize I am not giving you a clear cut easy assessment here, but that is why I say that the truth is to be found somewhere in the struggle.

Awesome recipe….love it!

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Carol Whittaker April 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Well stated Julie as always. We are not able to judge that is only God’s perogative. We are to love God first and submit ourselves to Him so He can do what we cannot, cleanse us and change us so that Heaven will be safe with us there. That being said, God has given us a standard of behavior for each person to measure his or her own self by. We are not to accept human standards of behavior for they fall far short of God’s measure. God can change anyone who will allow Him access to their heart. I know this is so because I am not who I once was, and am slowly learning to yield my life to Him. God bless you Julie, this subject is full of minefields and you are brave to subject yourself to all the slings and arrows. From your past posts I know what manner of fruit you bear. (by the way I love strawberry, thanks for posting)

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heidi April 8, 2014 at 10:03 pm

it makes me very sad to see people use their religion to excuse hateful behavior towards others. i doubt that’s what God had in mind.and on top of that is the issue of freedom for EVERYONE, equal rights. i don’t understand why some people are so afraid of people who are different. there doesn’t have to be right or wrong. you get to believe whatever you want so why can’t i have the same freedom?i believe the most important thing is LOVE, for all, and God IS LOVE.for two people to want to express their commitment to each other and have a family isn’t really anyone else’s business.thank you for expressing your feelings, it’s very important. if you try hard enough, you can find something in the bible to support just about anything.

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Jenn @ Deliciously Sprinkled April 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm

These look amazing, love the fresh strawberries! Perfect spring and summer dessert, pinned! :)

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patricia wylie April 9, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Dear Julie,
Being a Christian means living and behaving as He did. He loved everyone! He has told us to do the same and expressly told us NOT to judge others. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not about “hell, & how not to go there”. :)
Stephen Robinson said,” The heart and soul of the gospel(of Christ) is love. All the rest is commentary.” He also said that Christ has not been called the Terminator but I have heard the word Savior a time or two…
You are on track. His track. He had His detractors and so do we. Look up and carry on!

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Becky April 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Oh, man, I love this post. I have a Livejournal-turned-Facebook friend who has been on my heart/driving me crazy lately. She appears to be miserable, which I believe is because she spends much of her time (judging by FB posts) pointing out the flaws of others, and seriously lacking in the grace department. I am trying to decide whether to passive-aggressively posts some articles on her wall, or do something else, or ignore her. If I were to go the passive-aggressive route, this would be a great post for her to read.

Tis a shame that I don’t like coconut, since you have so many coconut recipes lately. :D

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Lauralee April 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm

This was a lovely read. It’s funny that I came to your site. I posted a comment on a different website, and you had commented there as well. We were both being criticized for what we were saying about the bible, even though we were both speaking in respectful tones. I saw what people were saying to you and clicked on your name. It led me to this post. (I imagine you can guess what blog I’m referring to).

Nice to meet you. Thanks for your heartfelt words. You made me feel better after all the nastiness that I read over at the other blog.

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Joshua Hampton April 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm

This is one brave and refreshingly honest post. It’s rare to get that level of honesty from people who call themselves “Christian” nowadays. I have always believed that God is love and he does not exclude anyone from his love. Also, thank you for the recipe. It looks beautiful.

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Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onion April 15, 2014 at 11:43 am

These look dreamy !

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Janna April 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Any suggestions on a coconut alternative? These look divine, but I can’t do the coconut.

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Julie Ruble April 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Sure! Just find a recipe for a vanilla mousse and that would be lovely here. Strawberry mousse would work also.

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Kari April 20, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I knew I pinned this under Easter for a reason. This is the message I so desperately needed to hear today. Thank you for being honest in your faith journey.

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Ellen May 11, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Hello,

I thought this dessert looked gorgeous and got the chance to make it today for a Mother’s Day dinner at my home. My family and extended family went crazy for it!! I must confess, I made some “healthy” changes due to some health challenges with in the family. I used a lower fat coconut milk, subbed some fat free half and half for the full fat, and cut the sugar to 1/3 cup and used 4 packets of Truvia. I also use unsweetened flaked coconut. Everyone said it was fabulous and when can we have it again!! THANK YOU for sharing the recipe and lovely photos. Sorry to take liberty with your recipe..but I have to be sure everyone who wants to eat something can do so. Your recipe worked beautifully with my liberal changes.

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Maria September 3, 2014 at 6:26 pm

I really enjoyed this recipe and the descriptive methods for each step. I too (like Ellen) made this dessert with more liberty in the “healthy” department. I used skim milk instead of half-and-half, less sugar in the filling and topping, unsweetened coconut flakes, fat free coconut milk, and I only used 1 container of strawberries. The consistency may be slightly more fluid with all the alterations (like a custard instead of a cream) but it still holds its shape and solidifies well enough. Nonetheless, this dessert has turned out great every time I have made it (which is 3 times now). Flavors mix very well and everyone that has eaten this dessert fell in love. This will now be a standard dessert I will carry forever. Thank you!

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