Fruit mince & coconut dream bars
This simple but remarkably delicious slice came about when I wanted to use up leftover fruit mince from Christmas. I remembered my mum making something like this when we were kids, so I had a hunt through her recipe books until I found a few old cuttings with similar-sounding ingredients. I’ve baked it half a dozen times now, and every time it gets the thumbs up. Even though I made it to use up the fruit mince, it’s so lovely and quick to make that it’s really worthwhile buying a jar just to bake it.
Makes 16 – 20 bars
90g unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1/3 cup (75g) brown sugar (or ideally use rapadura sugar)
1 cup (150g) plain flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (135g) desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 organic or free-range eggs
½ cup (110g) brown sugar (or ideally use rapadura sugar)
1 cup (about 300g) fruit mince (either homemade or bought)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Small handful of flaked almonds, for topping
Preheat your oven to 170C FF (180C conventional) then butter a 28cm x 18cm x 4cm slice tin, and line it with baking paper making sure the paper extends over the rim by 4cm. Set the tin aside.
Put the butter and brown sugar into a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Whiz them together for about 30 seconds, stopping and scraping down the sides once or twice, until they look creamy. Add the flour, vanilla and salt, and pulse them in until the mixture is just combined – it will be rather crumbly-looking. Tip the base mixture into the prepared tin and use your hands to pat it out as evenly as possible. I roll a small tumbler over the top to help smooth it out.
Pop the tin in the oven, and bake the base for 12 – 15 minutes, until it’s lightly browned. Remove the tin to a cooling rack. The base will smell toasty and if made with rapadura sugar, it will be speckled.
Just before the base is removed from the oven, tip the desiccated coconut, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and with a balloon whisk, thoroughly whisk them together for 1 minute. Set the bowl aside.
Put the eggs and sugar into a separate bowl, and with a hand-held electric beater on medium speed, beat them together for 5 minutes or until the mixture is very thick, light and creamy. Partially fold in the coconut mixture, then add the fruit mince and vanilla and fold them in too. Spread the filling evenly over the warm base then scatter a handful of flaked almonds over the top.
Bake the slice for 25 – 30 minutes or until it’s golden brown and feels set when lightly pressed. Sit it on a wire rack and leave it to cool in the tin. (I have to own up here, that I have cut the slice when it’s still warm and although it’s a little fragile to cut, it tastes wonderful!). Once it’s cool, use the baking paper to help ease it out of the tin onto a board. Use a sharp knife to cut it into bars or squares. (It’s not a bad idea to lightly chill the slice in the tin before cutting it, so you end up with neat slices.)
Layer the bars between sheets of baking paper in an airtight container. Store them in the fridge where they keep well for up to 1 week, or freeze them for 2 – 3 weeks.