Tutti frutti coconut bars (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Slices_of_tutti_frutti_coconut_and_chocolate_cake
All fruits coconut bars. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. Here in the UK, we are now in week 3 of lock-down, and whilst the weather has been wonderful this week and the garden has been very well attended to, I have also spent some time in the kitchen creating this week’s post.

I looked in the fridge at the weekend and noted a few bits and pieces that needed to be used up. The combination before me made me think of a sweet treat from yesteryear, Paradise Slice, which was a combination of dried fruit and sweet fudgy coconut mixture baked with a layer of chocolate underneath. And so, this week’s recipe was born.

New_take_on_Paradise_slice
Paradise slice revisited. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You can use any dried fruit you have in the fridge or cupboard – sultanas, raisins, dried apricot, cranberries will all work fine. I had the remnants of a bag of Trail Mix and some glacé cherries to use up, and they have created a very colourful combination.

Overhead_close-up_on_2_slices_of_tutti_frutti_coconut_cake
A filling of candied papaya, mango, pineapple and cherries mixed with coconut. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The original bake I remember contained eggs to bind the ingredients together, but in this recipe, I use a vegan meringue-style mixture which works very well and helps keep the coconut filling moist and pure white in colour. There are a few stages to the recipe, but if you haven’t got time to do it all in one go, you can bake the base first and then make the filling and topping later on. I hope you enjoy it.

Makes: 12 slices

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 100g white vegetable fat (such as Trex) or coconut oil, softened
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 175g gluten-free plain flour mix
  • 20g cocoa powder

For the filling and topping:

  • 90ml chickpea canning water
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • 150g dried or candied fruit, chopped
  • 150g desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g dark dairy-free chocolate
  1. First make the base. Grease and line a deep 20cm square tin. Beat together the fat and sugar until well blended and creamy. Sift the flour and cocoa on top and mix everything together well. Bring together with your hands to form a soft dough and then press into the bottom of the tin. Smooth with the back of a spoon, prick all over with a fork and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. Bake the chocolate base for 20 minutes until just firm to the touch. Leave to cool, the cover until ready to make the filling.

    4_steps_to_making_chocolate_shortbread_base
    Making the chocolate base. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. For the filling, pour the canning water into a large grease-free bowl and whisk until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking for a full 5 minutes.
  4. Gradually add the sugar, tablespoon at a time, whisking well in between, and then add the xanthan gum. Continue whisking for a further 2 minutes to make a thick, glossy meringue.
  5. Add the fruit, coconut and vanilla and gently mix everything together. Pile on top of the chocolate base, smooth the top. Bake at 170°C, 150°C, gas 3 for about 40 minutes until just firm to the touch, puffed up and lightly browned – cover the top with foil if it browns too quickly. Leave to cool in the tin – it will deflate on cooling.

    6_steps_to_making_tutti_frutti_coconut_filling
    Making the fruit and coconut filling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  6. When the coconut layer is cool, melt the chocolate and spread it over the top of the filling, right to the edges. Leave in a cool place for a few minutes until the chocolate is just about to set, then score with a sharp knife into 12 bars – it is important to do this before the chocolate sets otherwise, without scoring, the chocolate will shatter when you come to cut the bars through.
  7. Leave to set completely. Chill if necessary. Note: I have kept the bars quite large for easier cutting (and because I’m greedy!), but you can score the chocolate with 2 more lines and cut into 24 for small portions.
  8. To serve, carefully remove the cake from the tin and peel back the lining paper. Use a large sharp knife to cut through the chocolate, filling and base to make 12 bars – it is quite a crumbly mixture but a good blade should get through it easily.

    Topping_tutti_frutti_coconut_bars_with_melted_chocolate
    Covering with chocolate and slicing. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The slices keep well in a cake tin, but if the room temperature is warm, they are best stored in the fridge.

Up_close_on_a_slice_of_tutti_frutti_coconut_cake
A slice of paradise. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. My best wishes to you all until my next post. Keep healthy and stay safe 🙂

4 thoughts on “Tutti frutti coconut bars (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

  1. What an artful way of using up what you have ready at hand! Your coconut bars sound delicious. It reminded me of something called « magic cookie bar » in the U.S. which I used to make for my children and their crowd of friends! As I remember it, however, there were no dried fruit in there, but sweet condensed milk — very sweet, much too sweet for me back then already!
    I have been away from the blogging world, Kathryn: too much online reading, Zooming, Skyping, and video making has resulted in a problem with my eyes – nothing that a little therapy won’t fix though. But I have had to stay away from screens and missed your recipes. I hope you are well. Blue June is coming and your garden must be thriving, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning. How lovely to hear from you again. You had been in my thoughts because I hadn’t seen a post from you for a while. I hope your eyes are feeling better now. We are having very unseasonal gales here in Scotland this weekend! After having little no rain for several weeks it has been very wet and windy now for about 36 hours. Another day of it today and then things calm down tomorrow. I will then be able to assess the damage 😦 The garden had been blooming-up nicely. I was able to stake a few precious things so hopefully the damage will be minimal. Anyway, you will see what survives in my next post! Have a good weekend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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