Aunt Betty Cookies: Butter Bars with Chocolate and Toasted Coconut

Aunt Betty Cookies: Butter Bars with Toasted Coconut

There is a bit of family lore involved in these cookies. When my grandfather was still in the military, my grandmother had her recipe published in the U.S. Army’s 77th Special Forces Group Officer’s Wives cookbook under the title “butter bars”. While I always thought my grandmother to be the inventor of these cookies, she gives credit to her sister (my great aunt Betty) who claims to have never made them. Cookie origin mystery aside, they are indulgent and delicious and something to be shared with the whole family (or risk eating all of these babies yourself at once, not that I know anyone who has done that…).

Aunt Betty Cookies-1

There were many cookies baked in my dad’s house when he was growing up- chocolate chip, peanut butter or sugar cookies were the most common. But his absolute favorite cookies were these Aunt Betty cookies that were usually baked for the Christmas holidays. When my father was stationed overseas in Korea my grandmother and his sisters would mail him care packages with these cookies inside for his birthday or the holidays away from home. After getting married, my mom learned how to make my dad’s favorite cookies and would bake them for him when he went off to participate in training exercises in the field. My dad even recalls a fellow soldier, a decorated Vietnam war veteran, looking at his sad looking sandwich in his own lunch and comparing it to the lunch my dad had, always accompanied with Aunt Betty cookies. Dad generously shared his cookies with the tough, old sergeant, who became a kid again in his anticipation of eating these cookies at every field exercise (my mom started packing extra just for him).

Aunt Betty Cookies-2

These cookies are really bars, a rich and buttery base under a chocolate shell and finished with toasted coconut flakes. As I mentioned before, my dad likes them nearly frozen (much like how some people freeze their peanut butter cups), but I like to set them in the fridge and take them out a few minutes before eating. In our house we prefer the toasted coconut flakes as the topping, but you could have the coconut untoasted, or top the bars with crushed or whole nuts (I like almonds, but you could use walnuts, peanuts or pecans). As you can see in my photos, I like my coconut toasted to a dark brown color. I like the crunchy texture of the coconut on top of the cookie, but you can toast it lightly if you’d like.

Aunt Betty Cookies-4

 

Aunt Betty Cookies: Butter Bars with Chocolate and Toasted Coconut
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of butter, brought to room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Set the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter, egg, brown sugar and vanilla extract together with a mixer on high until mixed well.
  3. Sift together the flour and salt together and add gradually to the wet mixture until completely incorporated into the batter.
  4. Smooth the batter into a 9 by 9 inch square pan and bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Spread the shredded coconut on a cookie sheet and put in the oven 15 minutes after the cookies have gone in the oven (keep an eye on the coconut, it burns easily). The cookies should be golden brown and will be slightly soft in the middle.
  6. After the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate chips over low heat in a saucepan on the stove.
  7. Pour the melted chocolate over the cookies and top with the toasted coconut.
  8. Let the chocolate completely set and cut into squares and serve.

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Comments

    • says

      Hey Bianca! Thanks for checking out my site :) You need to get a oven pronto! I got a decent one off of gmarket for a reasonable price while I was in Korea. I even roasted two chickens side-by-side in there for Thanksgiving. I think all the ingredients in this recipe are easy to find there, but if you can’t find shredded coconut, I’d suggest using any kind of crushed nut. ;)

  1. says

    Great blog, coz. :-) And great recipe.

    Did you know there are 3 disputed versions, too? Mickey uses 2 eggs, Cris apparently only uses the yolk (I think), and Grandma uses 1 whole egg. Mickey’s are cake-ier (is that a word?), Cris’ are firmer, and the 1 whole egg-ers are somewhere in between. Oh, and some people insist on topping them with additional chocolate…not me, you know, just “some” people…;-)

    • says

      Hey Brandy! Thank for commenting. Yes, my mom told me about all the different versions of these cookies and I thought it was so interesting how one family recipe could have so many variations. Niki also said she likes her cookies with just chocolate on top and nothing else. And I’m tempted to try it with sesame seeds (crazy, I know)! Just the other day when I was testing out these steamed eggs my grandma tried to tell me, “oh no, you need toasted sesame oil in there!” but I prefer a cleaner taste to my eggs and the oil never fully gets whisked in. That’s what I love about cooking- you don’t have to follow the rules and you can use your creativity. :)

    • Cris says

      Sonja,
      I love your blog!!!!
      I use the whole egg. Grandma uses margarine, but I use butter. I think it’s the butter vs. margarine that makes the difference.
      Aunt Cris

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