Delicate Oatmeal Shorties with Lemon and Coconut
Stack of Oatmeanl, Coconut and Lemon Bars Upclose by Dena TBray©.jpg

Most of the U.S. has had unusual winter weather. I feel for folks out west who are experiencing drought and for the southern states that saw snow for the first time this year. While we are accustomed to long, dark and harsh winters in New England, things have been especially hard this year. There have been too many sub-zero days and nights, too many frost-bitten limbs, and too many neighbors who ran out of heating fuel. l pride myself on not letting the weather get me down, but I have a serious case of cabin fever. I’ve felt restlessness and irritable, like I don’t have the right to consider myself a local.

But now the thaw begins both in the outside world and in my heart.

Shadows and Light in Etna Snow.jpg

The sunlight through the trees casts glorious shadows on the layers of pristine white snow blanketing our yard. Out my window, I see clear droplets of water dripping down the window panes followed by a thumping sound-- big chunks of snow sliding down the rooftop toward the field in front of the house. While it is still very cold here, these are all signs that the calendar is correct. Spring is coming!

Sugar House, Etna NH by Dena T Bray©
Sap Collection, Etna NH by Dena T Bray©

The variation in temperature that allows the sap to run. Soon, the sweet odors and smoke will come flowing out of our neighbors’ sugar houses. Layers of clothing will be shed while out on walks or on the ski trails.  I can feel hope and allow myself to search for daffodils pushing up through the snow or dream of our summer gardens. I can envision  full streams to play in and wells filled with fresh water from the abundance of melting snow. Spring brings everything alive, including me. I am ready.

Several Cocont and Lemon Bars on White By Dena T Bray©.jpg

These Oatmeal Shorties with Lemon and Coconut begin with  a whole-grain shortbread crust and are then topped with sensuous lemon curd and coconut flakes. The coconut toasts during the baking process to create a crunchy topping and smoky flavor— the perfect complement to the delicate cookie crust and creamy lemon curd  below. They are rich so you will want to cut them into small squares. Serve as a snack with a glass of steamed milk or hot apple cider. Or, with tea or hot coffee at dessert. Watch the snow melt and enjoy!

Single Lemon Bar on White By Dena T Bray©

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Oatmeal, Coconut & Lemon Shorties on Polka Dots by Dena T Bray©.jpg


Yield: 30 Squarees


  • butter for baking pan

For the shortbread crust:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¼  cup all-purpose flour or almond flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup apple cider

For the topping:

  • 1 11-ounce jar prepared lemon curd
  • ¾ cup toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Sea salt


  1. Grease a 9 by 13 inch half sheet pan with butter. Line with parchment paper and butter again.
  2. Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a standing mixer. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low just to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the apple cider. Continue to mix until the dough forms a ball.
  3. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan. Spread it evenly in the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  5. Remove the chilled pan from the refrigerator. Spread the prepared lemon curd evenly over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with the coconut flakes, then sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  6. Place in the oven until golden and the dough is set, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut into 30 squares.
  9. Serve and enjoy.


  1. Use any prepared lemon curd you like. I prefer Stonewall Kitchen’s.
  2. Change these by substituting lime curd or raspberry jam for the lemon curd.
  3. To make these gluten-free, substitute oat flour for the whole-wheat flour and use almond flour.
  4. These are very delicate, so you may want to serve them in cupcake liners. If not eating right away,  keep stored in an airtight container.

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.