Lamingtons or Coconut Bars?

Depending on where you live, these pillowy little cake squares dipped in chocolate and unsweetened coconut have two names. In Ohio they are known as Coconut Bars, and have been a Cleveland tradition for decades. Go into almost any bakery and even some grocery stores and you will find them prominently displayed alongside the cookies and brownies. But try asking for them outside of Cleveland and you’ll be met with a blank stare. They don’t exist. That is unless you live in Australia, where Lamingtons, as they are named, are a popular national dessert! Now if you live somewhere between Cleveland and Australia and want to experience their loveliness, this recipe, adapted from David Lebovitz, makes them accessible to everyone. They are delicious and addictive.

Lamingtons or Coconut Bars?
5.0 from 2 reviews
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Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16 squares
Ingredients
  • Cake:
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1-1/3 cup (175g) cake flour
  • 2-1/2 oz. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Chocolate Icing:
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1-1/2 oz. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 3 c. desiccated(unsweetened) coconut
Instructions
  1. Butter a 9 inch square pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, lightly beat the eggs, salt and sugar together. Once incorporated, turn mixture to high and whip for 5-10 minutes until the eggs are very thick and form a ribbon when you lift the whisk.
  5. Fold in vanilla.
  6. Sift the flour onto the mixture and using a whisk, fold into the batter.
  7. Once incorporated, gently fold in the butter.
  8. Pour into cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges pull away slightly from the pan.
  9. Allow to cool on a baking rack.
  10. Unmold the cake onto a cutting board and remove the parchment paper.
  11. Trim the ends and either cut the cake into 16 squares or use a cutter.
  12. Refrigerate or freeze the cake while you make the icing.
  13. They will be easier to dip into the chocolate when cold.
  14. To make the icing, melt the chocolate, butter, and milk in a bowl placed over simmering water.
  15. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
  16. If too thick, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water.
  17. Prepare to dip the squares.
  18. Place coconut in a small cookie tray.
  19. Place a cooling rack over a large baking sheet to set the squares after dipping. It’s a bit messy so I like to keep a bowl of water and a towel to keep my hands clean.
  20. Remove cake from the freezer or refridgerator.
  21. Working 2 at a time using your hands, dip in chocolate to cover all sides, then sprinkle with coconut.
  22. Remove carefully using 2 small forks and allow to set on a cooling rack.
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In the bowl of an electric mixer, lightly beat the eggs, salt and sugar together. Once incorporated, turn mixture to high and whip for 5-10 minutes until the eggs are very thick and form a ribbon when you lift the whisk. Fold in vanilla.

Sift the flour onto the mixture and using a whisk, fold into the batter. Once incorporated, gently fold in the butter.
Pour into cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges pull away slightly from the pan. Allow to cool on a baking rack.

Unmold the cake onto a cutting board and remove the parchment paper. Trim the ends and either cut the cake into 16 squares or use a cutter.

Refrigerate or freeze the cake while you make the icing. They will be easier to dip into the chocolate when cold.To make the icing, melt the chocolate, butter, and milk in a bowl placed over simmering water. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. If too thick, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water.Prepare to dip the squares. Place coconut in a small cookie tray. Place a cooling rack over a large baking sheet to set the squares after dipping. It’s a bit messy so I like to keep a bowl of water and a towel to keep my hands clean.Remove cake from the freezer or refrigerator. Working 2 at a time and using your hands, dip in chocolate to cover all sides, then sprinkle with coconut. Allow to set on a cooling rack.

 

 

 

 

 

11 Responses to “Lamingtons or Coconut Bars?”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Debbie greene says:

    A rose by any other name…..those look like the coconut bars I remember with great fondness.They look fabulous!

  2. senny says:

    These are definitely lamingtons – and are of Australian origin!!!

  3. Adela says:

    Well…this cake..it’s made even in Romania….i eat them a lot of times….

  4. Judy says:

    Definitely lamingtons! I grew up with these in Australia. You could find them at every bake sale and supermarket when we were kids. They’re as Australian as the meat pie, sausage roll, finger bun and pavlova.
    Now that I’ve moved away from Australia, I have to make them myself. They’ve been hard to find outside of home. I’m really surprised that these are also popular in Ohio but are known as Coconut Bars!
    Last year I found ‘lamingtons in what I truly thought was the the least likely of places, McDonald’s Cafes in Hong Kong! They also had them in three colours at some of the local bakeries, chocolate, pink (strawberry?) and yellow (lemon?).
    This post makes me feel like whipping some up this very minute! I’m homesick.

    • kathyag says:

      Lamingtons at McDonalds in Hong Kong? Now that is a surprise! Hopefully they will become more readily available in the future.

  5. NerdyBaker says:

    Whatever they are, they seem perfect for Easter!

  6. Andrew_Italian_American says:

    I grew up in Cleveland, OHIO USA, an ethnic city of Italians and Eastern Europeans. These COCONUT BARS are available in all the Italian American neighborhood bakeries in Cleveland and the suburbs. In the UNITED STATES, I have been unable to find them in any other state including New York, Vermont, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania etc. Even in Italian American bakeries in nearby Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, they cannot be found. Thus, a recipe is needed when one no longer visits Cleveland Ohio on a regular basis. I did find them in ONE bakery outside of Ohio and they were called “icicles” but I’ve never seen them referred to as that again. Its good to know they are also called LAMINGTONS in Australia, because it makes it easier to find a recipe for these on line. Also, in the USA, people who like Hostess Twinkies or Hostess Cupcakes usually like these also as they are very similar. However, Hostess is being closed down and going bankrupt as of this writing. November 2012

  7. Andrew_Italian_American says:

    In the Cleveland Ohio bakeries and grocery stores, its good to ask when purchasing these what kind of cake they are made with because its not always that easy to discern in the bakery display case whether they are made with chocolate or white cake.(I prefer chocolate, but often purchase both) Most often in Cleveland they are made with Chocolate Cake or White Cake. In searching LAMINGTON recipes, I find those made with YELLOW cake and I cannot ever recall getting coconut bars in Cleveland with yellow cake. Also, for some reason, these are incredibly moist for the most part, maybe because of the glaze. However, if they are a day or two old in the bakery, they are noticeably drier with almost a light crunch to them not desirable to my taste.

  8. Laurie says:

    Finally! Have been searching for these FOREVER. My mom is from Cleveland and remembers eating these as a child.
    We’ve searched the world over and OHIO is the only state that knows what a Coconut Bar is. The picture is what she has described, never seeing one myself. Will definitely make these for mom…oh the memories!

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