The sweetest little bars for an afternoon snack or picnic

Aoife Noonan: Coconut and raspberries on top of shortbread is hard to beat

I love little sliceable bars. They are perfect for quick afternoon snacks and great for packing for picnics. Any type of food (sweet in this case) that you can eat with your hands rather than having to use a plate and a fork is in a different league in my book. Simple and easy, but full of different textures and flavours, these little bars are very moreish and quite addictive.

I am having a coconut moment. Anything coconut just screams sunshine and summer, but these bars aren’t just limited to summertime, despite the addition of raspberries. Brighten up colder days and make use of fruit in season by making these throughout the year and substituting the same quantity of raspberries with your fruit of choice. Coconut pairs well with so many different flavours, and I regularly vary this recipe, depending on the time of year, or what I have in the fridge or fruit bowl. Try swirling through a rhubarb compote in spring, use apricots or cherries in summer, or figs, blackberries or plums come autumn and winter.

These bars have a simple shortbread base. Buttery shortbread is one of life’s simple pleasures and is so quick and easy to throw together. Here, flour, sugar and salt are mixed with a little melted butter until crumbly, pressed into a baking tin to bake and that’s it. You can use a food processor if you’d rather not get your fingers sticky. Try to handle the shortbread dough as little as possible for a lovely light and crumbly biscuit.

The topping is a little unusual. It is kind of a hybrid of a sponge and coconut macaroon, soft and melting and full of crackles once baked. I fold fresh raspberries into the raw batter before spreading on top of the pre-baked shortbread. The raspberries sink slightly to form three lovely layers; crisp buttery shortbread, soft fruit and a slightly chewy coconut topping. If using any of the above alternative fruit suggestions, chop the fruit into small pieces around the same size as raspberries.


Once baked, I let the bars cool completely before cutting into about 10 portions to serve. Cut them slightly smaller or into squares to get a few more out of the batch, if needed. These will keep for up to three days in an airtight container.

Recipe: Coconut raspberry shortbread bars