Cookies, Dessert

Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut Bars

Nicoletta January 13, 2017

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Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut Bars: deliciously decadent bars, loaded with milk chocolate, shredded coconut and dried apricots. Soft, chewy, with a nice crusty topping. Call some friends, it’s Tea Time!

Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut Bars

The other day the north wind was blowing, creating whirlwinds in the snow and reducing visibility. The air was misty, icy, and the temperatures prohibitively low. Not that I was planning to go out anyway. I was just recovering from a home injury, I fell down the stairs, not ALL the stairs, and luckily not face front, but enough to end up with greenish, purplish bruises on my lower end and right arm. I know, who falls down the stairs, children or older people, right?



Well, accidents happen. I had just come back from yoga, I was relaxed and limber. My cats were happy to see me, especially the male, Wonton, who was waiting for me to go upstairs and turn on the water in the bathtub so he could drink (read: spoiled cats). We’re trying to teach him how to turn off the water when he’s done, but for now, we have to wait until “his majesty” has finished. Once he filled his belly, we were going down the stairs, but you know cats, they like to play you tricks, he ran in front of me and I went for a loop. But what does this have to do with the recipe, I hear you asking. Wait, we’re getting there. So, I was lazing on the couch, trying to find a comfortable position for my..hum..right cheek, when the bell rang and it was the mailman! Out, delivering mail in that cold! He delivered a wonderful cookbook I won in a giveaway over at One Wet Foot, no less than Dorie Greenspan’s latest “Dorie’s Cookies”. Oh yesss! Flipping the pages of a pretty heavy book, more than 500 pages, can be a little problematic for someone with a sore arm, but no, I had to get in there right away and decide on the recipe I was going to make the next day, first of many more to come.

Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut Bars

Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut Bars, was my choice. And such a good one!

The first thing that led to the choice was having all the ingredients and some that I wanted to use up: in specific, shredded coconut, dried apricots, and a beautiful Bernard Callebaut milk chocolate log, leftover from the Christmas holidays. All the other ingredients: butter, eggs, all-purpose flour, pure vanilla extract, sea salt, baking soda, granulated sugar and brown sugar, are staples in our fridge and pantry.

The recipe is pretty easy and straightforward, and I appreciated that the ingredients were in both cups and grams. I am European and I am used to grams, so that’s what I followed, plus I really believe that using a scale is way more precise for baking. I like having all the ingredients ready, measured and separated in individual ramekins before I start. It makes for a smoother outcome, no hiccups, no waiting time halfway down the preparation to read and measure the next ingredient. I respected the list of ingredients, but I cut the amount of granulated sugar in half. The apricots are left to sit in hot water while you’re making the dough, and they become nice and plump and juicy. I have to tell you, chopping a whole log, the apricots, and lifting a heavy skillet, was not ideal for my arm and hand, but you know me and baking, I cannot stop, the show must go on! lol.

Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut BarsCast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut Bars

Cast-iron pan nice and buttered, I smoothened the thick batter with a spatula and in the oven it went for 1 hour. The smell in the house was exquisite. Out of the oven, a couple quick pictures, then just when it was reaching room temperature I cut it into bars, ’cause I could no longer wait: I had to taste it!

These bars were luxurious. A smooth buttery flavoring accompanied by that slight crunch and nuttiness of the coconut, amazing. The richness of the Callebaut chocolate entices every bite and the apricots adding some plump, velvet, smoothness to the mix. The crumbly texture of the bar has you grabbing for crumbs on the plate. Yes plate necessary, lol. Having been baked in a cast-iron pan has a crust that is beautifully colored and a texture that is crunchy yet melts in your mouth that only enhances the topping which is outright lovely.

cast-iron pan chocolate coconut bars

The sun was shining and the temperatures were better (-15° C) so I decided to surprise my neighbours with a home delivery. I arranged few bars on two plates, wrapped the plates in foil, put on boots, jacket, scarf, gloves and hat, and off I went. They both thought it was the mailman ringing at their door but were much more pleased to see the sweet package. There’s nothing better than seeing a smile on someone’s face knowing they were thought of.

Song of the day: “I Love Me”, Meghan Trainor – ft. LunchMoney Lewis.

Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut Bars

Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut Bars

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: about 25 bars (depending on the size) 1x


Recipe slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Dorie’s Cookies”.


  • 3/4 cups (120 g) dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (204 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp; 170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 10 ounces (283 g) milk chocolate


  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325° F. Butter a 9 1/2 inch cast-iron pan and set aside.
  2. Soak the apricots in hot water until they’re plump. Then drain and chop them.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together flour and baking soda.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, the sugars and salt on medium speed until creamy (about 3 minutes), scraping down the sides if necessary.
  5. Add the egg and the yolk, beating after each addition, then add the vanilla and mix again.
  6. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients (flour and baking soda) and pulse to blending, then on low speed mix until partially incorporated.
  7. Add the coconut, apricots and chocolate, pulsing after each addition, until well incorporated.
  8. Turn off mixer, give a final stir with a spatula or wooden spoon, then place the dough in cast-iron pan, smoothing the top.
  9. Bake the cookie-cake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until the top is deeply golden brown, and the edges are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  10. Transfer the pan to a rack, let it reach room temperature, then cut into bars.


As for an alternative baking pan, you can use a 9 or 10 inch round cake pan but the cooking time will be about 10 minutes less (so, about 45-50 minutes) and you won’t get that crispy exterior.
The bars will keep for up to 3 days, well wrapped, or in an airitight container, at room temperature. They also freeze well, wrapped tight, for up to 2 months.

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Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Coconut Bars

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  • Avatar
    Reply Teresa January 13, 2017 at 10:13 am

    That looks like a perfect treat for a winter afternoon! Your neighbours must have been thrilled with the delivery. I’m so glad you won the book – you’re going to have a lot of fun baking from it, I can see.

    I’m glad your fall wasn’t worse and that the delivery came just in time to cheer you up.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Thank you, Teresa! The delivery of the cookbook was spot on! I needed a little diversion 😉 They turned out amazing, we all loved them (we also had them this morning for breakfast). Our neighbors love us, we deliver more often than not! ; -) .

  • Avatar
    Reply Terri January 13, 2017 at 10:56 am

    As one of the neighbours lucky enough to receive this wonderful gift of the bars, I must say it brightened my afternoon cup of tea! Both my husband and I loved them and our treats were gone quickly. I think they would be a very good breakfast because they are not very sweet and have the lovely crisp and moist texture. Thanks Nicoletta! If I don’t have a cast iron frying pan cold I still bake these in a heavy 9×13 out of ceramic?

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Thank you so much, Teresa, glad you and your husband enjoyed the bars with a cup of tea! We actually had them this morning for our breakfast, so I agree, they are definitely a breakfast alternative. They’re not too sweet because I cut down the white sugar to 1/4 cup (50 grams), but if you like them sweeter you can bring it back to 1/2 cup (100 grams). As for an alternative pan, you can use a 9 or 10 inch round cake pan but the cooking time will be about 10 minutes less (so, about 50 minutes) and you won’t get that crispy exterior. Let me know how they turn out!

  • Avatar
    Reply Colleen Milne January 13, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Nicoletta, I hope you are healed up from your injury! These bars look amazing, and I especially like the apricots in there. I love baking in cast iron, too.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      Getting better, Colleen, thanks! These bars are really amazing, other than cornbread this was my only baking in the cast-iron. Love it!

  • Avatar
    Reply MDIVADOMESTICA January 13, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    These are gorgeous! What a fantastic way to use some of the ingredients you already had on hand. Definitely my style of cooking! Hope you are on the mend fast. Speedy recovery.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Thank you Melissa! I love to use up ingredients we have! I hardly ever make a recipe where I have to go and buy ingredients! I am recovering, the bruises are turning a light yellowish green 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Cynthia January 13, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    I love baking and cooking with cast iron. Hope you’re recovering from your fall!!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Wow, many of us love to cook and bake in cast iron pans! Thank you so much for your comment, and yes, I am getting better 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Mel @ The Refreshanista January 13, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Wow these look delicious! I love finding new recipes for my cast-iron skillet, I’ll have to try this one 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 13, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Thanks Melanie! This recipe is really a keeper! Everybody loved them!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kortney January 13, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    I have yet to try anything sweet in my cast iron. But, I have started a post Whole30 list and this is on it! Oh and I love Callebaut milk chocolate!!! I would buy it from bulk barn when I was a teen and eat the whole chunk straight up!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2017 at 10:06 am

      That was my first time, too, other than cornbread, and I loved it! So easy to put together and that crispy exterior is to die for! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

  • Avatar
    Reply Valentina | The Baking Fairy January 13, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    These look so delicious! I love the addition of dried apricots, that’s something I’ve never tried! 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Thank you, Valentina! The dried apricots here are perfect! They give some juiciness, moisture, and sweetness.

  • Avatar
    Reply Diana L. January 14, 2017 at 2:05 am

    Oh, I hope you’re healing quickly. My cat is playful as well and always seems underfoot on the stairs.
    I’ve always wanted to try a cast iron pan cookie recipe. They would like they would be extra delicious with the outer crispy layer. I’m sure my family will love this recipe. Feel better soon!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Hi Diana, thanks, I am healing, the bruises still look bad, though 😉 . Cats are so unpredictable and playful :-). The crispy layer is -for me- the best part, I like the crispy edges in everything we bake, sweet or savory!

  • Avatar
    Reply Sean January 14, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Sounds like absolute heaven. The recipe that is, not the whole crazy cat making you fall down the stairs thing. That part sounds a little rough. I’d tell you to guilt the little bugger into realizing he needs to turn off his own faucet, but we all know that cats don’t feel guilt.

    I love my cast iron, though I don’t bake in it very often, and when I do it’s usually corn bread. But this has me thinking that I really should explore that world a little more often! Maybe I’ll have to surprise some neighbours and/or mail carriers with something too 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Thanks, Sean, yes the recipe is heavenly, the other story a little less. But I’m getting better 🙂 . I had only made corn bread, too, in the cast iron, but I’ll be baking more sweet recipes. We all loved them! It’s nice to see the pleasant look of surprise on people’s faces!

  • Avatar
    Reply Lillian January 14, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    mm..yes you are right that book is hefty!! I certianly can do some weights with that one. Probably heavier than some of the textbooks that I read back when I was studying for my masters.

    I’ll have to do more desserts in my cast-iron pan! I pretty sure everything I’ve made it in so far has been savoury and not sweet!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2017 at 10:22 am

      Hi, Lillian! Heavy, right? That’s two of us, we’ll be baking more sweet recipes in the cast-iron, pan! Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Cassie | Crumb Kitchen January 15, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Every dessert tastes better in a cast-iron pan, I swear! Your photos (and this recipe) makes me want to reach inside my computer and shove a piece or two of those cookies into my mouth. I love the crispy outsides and soft inside combination—such a delicious treat!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Thank you, Cassie! They’re all gone, now, but we absolutely loved it! Crispy on the outside, crumbly and soft on the inside.

  • Avatar
    Reply Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop January 15, 2017 at 7:50 am

    Oh no! I hope you are doing okay! You are right, it could have been worse, but ouch! These bars look delicious and would make me feel better right away….even without any sort of injury! Be careful…and keep on baking! 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 15, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Hi, Kathy! Getting better, thank you! And yes, it could have been worse! These delicious bars indeed helped me feel better right away 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Adina January 16, 2017 at 3:07 am

    I hope you feel better already. I managed to fall down the stairs a couple of times myself, luckily only on the bum. The coconut bars sound wonderful, what a great use for the lodge pan.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 17, 2017 at 6:57 am

      Thank you Adina, the bruises are turning a light greenish yellow but do not hurt that much anymore 🙂 . The bars were wonderful, such a surprise in the cast-iron!

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