Upside-down Lime and Coconut Bars

Shamrock-shaped Lime Bar, take three

Has a song ever inspired you to bake? While debating with myself what to bake for my next post for Girl Meets Oven, the song “Coconut” suddenly popped into my head. If you are not familiar with it, the chorus goes, “She put the lime in the coconut; she drank ’em both up.” Then I thought instead of drinking lime and coconut, why not bake with them? Lime and coconut bars could make for a tasty and fun Saint Patrick’s Day treat.

The Story

Alas, the luck of the Irish was not with me. I tried to make the bars similar to a key lime pie by adding a graham cracker and coconut crust. That was my first mistake. I have never had good luck with key lime pie. The first time I tried making one the filling never set, so the graham cracker crust ended up a terribly soggy mess. It was more like key lime soup with graham cracker mush than pie.

Before baking these lime bars, I put the graham cracker crust firmly on the bottom of the pan, poured the lime filling over it and hoped for the best.

Lime bars before going in the oven

Fortunately, this time the filling set up (sort of) and the crust did not turn out soggy. The crust actually did the weirdest thing during baking, which prevented it from getting soggy. It raised itself to the top of the pan where it was able to fully bask in the warmth of the oven. When it came out of the oven, all I saw at first was the crust.

Graham cracker crust rises

I wondered what happened to the key lime filling. Then I looked at the bottom of my clear glass baking dish. It had sunk.

Lime filling sinks

Purely by accident, I had made upside-down lime and coconut bars! Although strange looking, they tasted a lot like key lime pie.

Flip Side of Lime Bar, take two

At least my baking adventure didn’t have the exact same ending as the Coconut song. The girl in the song ended up calling the doctor because she had a belly ache. The doctor gave her good advice though.

“Put the lime in the coconut; then you feel better.”

If only she had lime and coconut bars.

I can’t get this song out of my head now.
Take the Lime and the Coconut

The Moral of the Story

Look for the bright side when a recipe doesn’t turn out as you originally expect. At first glance I thought the lime bars were an epic fail, until I cut them out of the pan and turned them upside down. Turns out by looking at it a different way, I flipped my flop into a new recipe. They may have looked a little strange, but they tasted great.

Flip Side of Lime Bar, take three

About the Recipe

For the “filling” part of the recipe, I blended elements from two different recipes. Pat and Gina Neely from Food Network have a recipe called Neely’s Lime Bars, which had the lime I was looking for. The Better Homes and Garden’s New Cook Book has a recipe for basic lemon bars, which I had made before with success.

For the “crust” part, I made a graham cracker and coconut crust. I started with a graham cracker crust recipe that I have used for ages, which I found originally with a cream cheese recipe on a box of Philadelphia cream cheese. I simply reduced the graham cracker portion of the recipe a bit and added shredded coconut.

The Cast of Characters

LIme, coconut and graham cracker
Lime and coconut were supposed to be the star ingredients, but it was the graham crackers that end up stealing the show.

The Play by Play

Before you begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then begin making the graham cracker and coconut crust.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Once it is melted, let it cool while you continue making the crust.
Melting butter, take one

In a food processor, place your graham crackers.
Graham crackers before grinding

Grind the crackers into fine crumbs.
Graham crackers grounded

Now add the coconut to the food processor.
Adding the coconut

Pulse the processor a few more times to coarsely grind the coconut.
Ground graham cracker

Add the brown and white sugar to the ground graham cracker and coconut.
Adding brown and white sugar

Transfer the crumb mixture to a large bowl, and add the melted butter. Stir until the crumbs are moistened.
Mixing in the butter

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 baking dish.
Patting down the crust

Bake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Baking the crust

Let the crust cool on a wire rack while you prepare the lime filling.
Graham cracker crust baked

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs.
Whisking the egg

Whisk the sugar into the eggs.
Adding the sugar

Whisk in the flour into the sugar and eggs.
Adding the flour

Now zest a lime.
Zesting the lime

Then juice the lime.
Juicing the lime

Add the lime zest and juice to the egg, sugar and flour mixture.
Adding the lime zest

Add the milk.
Adding the milk

If you want your lime bars to be green, add a few drops of green food coloring.
A swirl of green food coloring

Stir in the coloring completely.
Making it green

Pour the lime filling over the baked graham cracker crust.
Key lime bar filling bubbles

Bake in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
LIme Bars Start to Bubble Up in Oven

When the graham cracker crust has made its way to the top, remove it from the oven.
Graham Cracker Crust Top

Look for your lime filling at the bottom of the pan. Hopefully, you used a clear glass baking dish so you can see it. Let the bars cool completely in the baking dish.
Lime Filling at Bottom of Pan, take one

Once cool, cut into bars. Remove the bars from the pan and flip them over. Now your filling is on top of the crust!
Flip Side of Lime Bar

If you are celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, cut your bars into a shamrock shape.
Shamrock-shaped Lime Bar in Cutter, take two

Carefully remove the bar from the shamrock-shaped cookie cutter.
Shamrock-shaped Lime Bar Sans Sugar Topping

Garnish with powdered sugar.
Shamrock-shaped Lime Bar, take four

If you are feeling especially festive, also garnish with green sugar.
Shamrock-shaped Lime Bar, take one

Recipe: Upside-down Lime and Coconut Bars

Summary: A new twist on lime bars.


For the crust:
1 ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup shredded coconut
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
Adapted from Neely’s Lime Bars recipe on Food and Lemon Bar recipe from Better Homes and Garden’s New Cook Book.

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/8 cup milk
4 drops green food coloring


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, grind graham crackers into fine crumbs.
  3. To the food processor, add the shredded coconut and pulse a few more times until coarsely ground.
  4. Transfer the ground graham cracker crumbs and coconut to a large bowl, and stir in the brown and white sugars.
  5. To the bowl, add the melted butter and stir until all the ingredients are moistened.
  6. Into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 pan, press the crumb mixture.
  7. Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until golden. Let the crust cool slightly before adding the topping.
  8. In a large bowl, mix together all of the filling ingredients and pour over the crust.
  9. Bake the bars for 15 to 20 minutes or until center is set.
  10. Let the bars cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars.
  11. Sprinkle with powdered or granulated sugar before serving.
  12. Store leftover bars in the refrigerator.

The Footnotes

  • About the crust: I’m still trying to figure out what made it rise. Maybe it wasn’t heavy enough. Next time I think I’ll try to make double the crust to see if it stays in the bottom.
  • About the filling: I’m also not sure what made the filling sink. Maybe it wasn’t thick enough to hold down the crust. I’ve never had a problem with graham cracker crusts when baking cheesecakes, so I think next time I’ll try adding cream cheese to the filling to make it more like a key lime cheesecake to weigh down the crust. By using cream cheese the filling should also set up well and not make the crust soggy.
  • About the sugar on top: When all else fails, you can always cover up a mistake with lots of powdered or colored sugar. I tried sprinkling my bars with both powdered sugar and green sugar to make them look more festive and cover up the fact that the bar was in less-than-perfect form.

Number of servings (yield): 12

Meal type: dessert

My rating: 3 stars:  ★★★☆☆ 1 review(s)

Additional Resources

It looks like almost everybody is making lime bars, including Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart. Here are a few other recipes if you want to give them a whirl. However, it looks like no one else has the floating graham cracker crust trick in their recipe. As far as I can tell, you’ll only find that here on Girl Meets Oven.

Have you made lime bars? How did it go?

Published by Lori

I'm the "girl" in Girl Meets Oven.

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