Lemon Coconut Bars with Mascarpone Cheese

A treat straight from the chefs; these Lemon Coconut Bars with Mascarpone Cheese from Nordstrom Cafe are lemon bars extraordinaire with mascarpone cheese and toasted coconut. They are quite simply the BEST!

Slice of Lemon and Coconut Bar with Mascarpone Cheese from Nordstrom Cafe
Not that any of you have lost sleep wondering where the heck I’ve been but I realize today as I edit this post that I haven’t posted since before Christmas. What the heck, Barb? Well, I have been busy, maybe just not cooking so much? Still I’m glad I made time for these Lemon Coconut Bars with Mascarpone Cheese from Nordstrom Cafe; I needed a reward! ๐Ÿ™‚

I moved into my home five years ago on 12/31. An easy day to remember because it was a ridiculous day to move. I had lived with friends for 8 very long months before this house was ready and those five years seem to have flown by. I have said too often the past couple of weeks, ‘FIVE YEARS!’

Still, it’s true and I’m not even done with things I thought would be complete years ago. Blame it on the garden. I left a beautiful garden, breathtaking even. I had devoted untold hours to it for many years and it was that place that melted away my stress and anxiety and I knew I would miss it but I thought I was over the backbreaking labor. Especially since my move was predicated by a knee injury that made gardening more difficult.

I was nuts; If you are a gardener and need both the beauty of a pretty landscape and the work that goes into it; you can’t just stop. I know that now. I moved into a brand new home with one tree in the front yard and a couple of totally wrong bushes against the house.

I’ve spent five years changing that with several trees and even more bushes and perennials. A deck went on in 2017 and a large flower/vegetable garden went in last year and I honestly might almost be there.

Sadly I’ll never completely achieve the same nirvana; houses here are too close and others don’t really care like I do but I’m trying to create my own little oasis here in this southern metro neighborhood of Denver, Colorado.

These photos are from this past summer and I must admit; summer without my garden pots of herbs would not be the same. I don’t plan a huge vegetable garden but herbs and flowers are my friend!

Backyard Herb Garden

So now that I have the garden almost to the point of only requiring maintenance, I’ve started to delve more into the work I wanted to get done inside.

In the past couple of months I have completely changed my office with a new desk, filing cabinet, chair and fun cocktail photo and I’ve worked on the soft furnishings in my bedroom. Next in my bedroom? I’m painting the dark furniture…wish me luck!

It’s not really finished but it’s a nice change from the taupe, lavender and sage soft goods I had been using for probably a dozen years. Anyway, because of all of these projects my time has been stretched VERY thin.

Then along came the holidays. Holidays for a food blogger are like retail; our sites get a huge part of their traffic with readers looking for a favorite holiday food or beverage. So in the midst of that period of crazy, I had an opportunity to paint my kitchen.

Now with my home only being five years old, you might think that silly to consider except for one thing. I did not put in cabinets I loved; I put in cabinets I could afford. I always knew I would be painting them; I did not know it would take me five years. I was presented with a great offer and decided to do it. In the month of December. Yep, it was nuts!

Granted I wouldn’t be painting them myself but still; it took me several full days to find the perfect color and hardware and talk about down to the wire? I do an annual Christmas party and this year it was scheduled for the 22nd of December.

My cabinets were finished and the hardware installed on December 19th. Whew yes, but SO worth it, I just love the difference they make. New stove is next; I’ve never loved it either!

Kitchen Cabinets Before and After

Once the kitchen cabinets were in I could finally start thinking about what I would make for my Christmas party. My neighbors all bring a dish but I still try to have at least an appetizer and a dessert. My favorite appetizer is this French Quarter Cream Cheese Spread. It is beyond delicious but the best part is that it’s also so easy to make.

French Quarter Cheese Spread

Onion is grated and added to cream cheese along with other savory touches and the whole thing is topped with a brown sugar, butter, and mustard topping. It is literally devoured each year and while I love to mix things up; I know everyone expects to find this appetizer on the table.

While I would normally spend a full day making an outrageous cake, I simply did not have the time this year. Besides that, one of my closest friends is Amy and she tries to avoid gluten. She does not have celiac disease but gluten and her thyroid are not friends and she can tell if she eats it. So I try to make things I can revise to work that everyone can enjoy.

I recently made my favorite old fashioned Lemon Bars using gluten free flour and they were fantastic so I decided to mimic that effort and do the same with another favorite lemon dessert that we love.

My daughter Lauren worked at Nordstrom’s in both high school and after college and we met often in their cafe for lunch. One day she was interested in something sweet and spied Lemon Bars on their menu so we ordered two of them.

Lo and behold, they were not the Lemon Bars we expected; I think they are even better! These Lemon Coconut Bars with Mascarpone Cheese included toasted coconut in the crispy base for a start.

After the lemon curd filling is baked and cooled, they are topped with a combination of whipped cream and mascarpone cheese and finished with lemon zest and more coconut. These are truly divine little morsels!

Lemon and Coconut Bars with Mascarpone Cheese from Nordstrom Cafe Garnished with Lemon Slices

Best of all? The chef was happy to share his recipe with me for these Lemon Coconut Bars. So I’ve made these for big occasions (I posted about them 8 years ago too; time for a photo redo and sharing with new readers; they should not be missed!) and a holiday party seemed most fitting.

This recipe makes a LOT which is why I love having it for parties but if your needs are not as great, just cut the ingredients in half and use a smaller pan too…they’ll be just as good! The little quarter lemon slices on top are not an absolute but I absolutely love them!

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Lemon and Coconut Bars with Mascarpone Cheese from Nordstrom Cafe on a Rectangular Serving Plate

Slice of Lemon and Coconut Bar with Mascarpone Cheese from Nordstrom Cafe
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Lemon Coconut Bars

A fantastic variation on Lemon Bars these include mascarpone cheese and coconut and are perfect for a party!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Cookies, Brownies and Bars
Cuisine: American
Servings: 50 Servings
Calories: 202kcal
Author: Barb

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 2 cups Flour
  • ยพ cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups coconut - flaked toasted, cooled
  • 4 oz. butter cubed and chilled

For the Filling

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • ยพ cup fresh lemon juice strained
  • Zest from two lemons
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 ยฝ tsp. baking powder
  • ยผ tsp. salt

For the Whipped Mascarpone Topping

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • ยฝ cup powdered sugar

For Topping and Garnish

  • 3 cups coconut - not toasted
  • 1 lemon zested
  • ยผ lemon slice for each bar optional

Instructions

  • Make the crust by pulsing all dry ingredients in food processor. Add the butter and pulse until a grainy dough forms. Press into a papered, buttered, floured pan (be sure to use parchment paper or it's difficult to remove from pan). Bake crust at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until light brown.
  • To Make the Filling
  • Place filling ingredients in the processor and blend. Pour filling over hot crust and bake at 350 degrees until slightly brown and set, 25-30 minutes.
  • Freeze to set firmly and cool before proceeding.
  • To Make the Whipped Mascarpone Topping
  • Whip cream to stiff peaks. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Fold in mascarpone. Spread over the chilled filling.
  • Top with coconut. Freeze, unmold and cut into bars.
  • Garnish with lemon zest and put 1/4 lemon slice on each serving (optional)

Notes

This makes a lot; we used a large, rimmed cookie sheet and were able to get almost 70 small pieces from it. Cut it in half and use a jelly roll pan if you want considerably less portions.

Nutrition

Serving: 18 | Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 146mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g

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38 Comments

  1. Hi Barb, Iโ€™m very excited to make these lemon bars, they look amazing! You mention a large pan, Iโ€™m thinking itโ€™s 12×18โ€ for a full recipe. Appreciate if you would please confirm the pan size. I expect these would freeze well. Thank you.

    PS I recently made your Korean Fried Chicken it was outstanding!

    1. Clo…first so glad you enjoyed the chicken. I still can’t believe I made that before I actually tasted it somewhere but I was not unhappy with that decision. I’ve since gone out with a friend to a place that’s highly recommended and while it was good, quite honestly it wasn’t as good as that recipe I put on my blog!

      Now for that pan size. Yes it’s about that size. You made me go measure mine which is 12X17″ or what I would most normally use for cookies. I’m going to go and make sure I put that dimension on the recipe now so thanks for that heads up.

      It does make a lot of but that’s because I got a restaurant version and yes the best part is they do freeze well. I cut them up and freeze them individually although I usually make it when I’m going to have a big crowd and never have a lot of leftovers!

      I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

  2. Good to see a post from you! I’ve figured you’ve been busy — and have you! Any house takes a lot of work, bur new houses take beastly amounts. And your house will still be “new” for another few years. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good to see this recipe reappear again, too — as you know, lemon is my favorite!

  3. What a fun post! I used to work for Nordstrom in their corporate office out here but never went to the restaurant!

    1. Oh gosh Claire…it is the BEST. We should meet there for lunch one day. So glad to see you for our day of butter; what a lovely place and delicious lunch we had!

      1. Let’s do it! ๐Ÿ™‚ We should celebrate Karen’s win! After Thanksgiving? I have been enjoying the Epicurean butters – now I want to get the black truffle one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I luv everything about this recipe, Barb!! Wish I had all the ingredients on hand – I’d rush to the kitchen and make it now. Thanks for sharing…can’t wait to try this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Mega thanks ! These are fabulous !!!
    Now the real coupe would be : How does one make Nordstrom’s
    Champagne Vinaigrette ? Think on that one, and have a superb day ! C

    1. I also have their cookbooks (another benefit of daughter working there; she knew those would be well received) and they include the recipe…so here you go:

      1 tablespoon shallot (can put whole shallot and whole garlic in food processor), chopped
      1 tablespoon dijon mustard
      2 tablespoons sugar
      1 teaspoon garlic, minced
      1/2 cup champagne wine vinegar
      1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
      3/4 teaspoon salt
      1/2 teaspoon white pepper

      In a food processor, add all ingredients and pulse until smooth. Note: I don’t bother mincing the garlic and worrying about how fine I chop the shallots; it all gets blended in the food processor anyhow!

      Enjoy!

  6. Wonderful! What great neighbors to have – wonderful generous people but with amazing stories to tell. I’ll bet the bbq was amazing and interesting. And what food! But yes definitely two of these bars would find their way onto my plate. I am nuts for lemon desserts and I love the whipped cream mascarpone topping! And coconut? Perfect with lemon. Bookmarked these babies! Gorgeous, too!

    1. They are all that…I really didn’t know them when I lived at the top of the street so I’m grateful for my time at the Becker’s as I’ve met some new wonderful friends!

    1. They’re wonderful…a bit more work than our standard lemon bar recipe so I save them for more special occasions…but also so worth it.

  7. My daughter-in-law Ming is from Taiwan and after being in the states for years, she likes desserts. However, when she’s back in Kaohsiung she gobbles up all the red bean paste she can stuffed into all sorts of treats.

    We would both love these bars! how cool that the chef shared his recipe with you and now with us. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. One of the girls staying with my friends is from Taiwan too and recently went to San Francisco. She came back with a gift for me. Red bean paste candy. Seriously could not do it. Lemon bars really are mo’ better!

    1. So many people have no idea it exists and I just love them; seriously some of the best salads I’ve ever had. The perfect lunch meeting place too…except around the holidays. That’s when I’ll avoid them and let the crowds get their lunch.

  8. These will be made this afternoon! I’ve a huge bounty of regular and Meyer lemons zested and frozen, and the trees are full of this year’s crop. Love lemon, coconut, and whipped cream/cheese frostings.

    I spent quite awhile in rural China doing medical volunteer work. Though going to grad school being the “token” I’m fairly flexible and willing to try most cuisines (LOVE humble Mexican soup with nopales-cactus.) The only items I missed were ICE cubes and chocolate: many do not have electricity/cost prohibitive, and the closest I could get on my b-day was a digestive biscuit found in some iteration throughout the world. The best get togethers, in my opinion, are those including the world. Who cares if we get all first time experiments for main dishes, sides, or desserts? Have cereal, call for pizza, make do. Let’s embrace each other. P.S Love Nordstrom as well as Nieman Marcus. At NM San Francisco’s rotunda cafรฉ reminds me of growing up in NYC. YUM! Thanks for the post.

    1. I did not try the chicken feet…but then I wasn’t hungry for much of anything; that’s my excuse! It was a wonderful afternoon; LOVE learning of their culture and can not wait to cook Chinese with someone from that part of the world.

      Hope you love them too Wendy…they make a lot but also get frozen so I say go big or go home! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Oooh… hmmm… that restaurant looks familiar!! And um… ahem… WHY did I not order one of these bars when I was there??? Major fail on my part!! But NOW I can make my own – which I will be doing soon…. lemon and coconut?? Oh yeah……

    1. That day was with Lauren at the Park Meadows store so I don’t know if they even have them there still or at the store Lauren worked at. I’m just glad I had the recipe…I thought of you when I did this…I’m craving a salad right now!

  10. That bbq sounds like a lot of fun. And these sure beat red bean paste. My daughter and I used to love the Nordstrom’s cafe. She always got the pasta with (I think) red sauce and was disappointed when she came home because they took it off the menu! But it is a nice venue and i do remember that they did have good food!

    1. I think I always get the same thing. A salad with pears and blue cheese and pecans. I just love it. We’ll have to meet there one day!

  11. I made your lemon meringue pie once again for a dinner party we had on Friday evening. It was a big hit. There’s nothing better than a home made lemon filling. If these bars taste as wonderful as your pie then I know they are going to be on my must bake and serve list.

    1. I didn’t know that…whew, good thing it worked huh? ๐Ÿ™‚ These are so good Paula…definitely a step up from regular lemon bars.

    1. I ‘think’ every store does but couldn’t say for a fact; just know the two in Denver both do. Great salads and sandwiches and not one of those overly crazy busy scenes either John.

  12. Lemon bars are among my favorite desserts. I saw your photo the other day (was it on Facebook perhaps?) and am THRILLED to have the recipe. Coconut and lemon are an excellent pairing. Can’t wait to try these!

    1. So good Holly…I would have offered you one of those 65 pieces but they disappeared. I was lucky to get one for myself even!

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