As many of you already know, I spend quite a bit of time each year in my home country, Canada. As much as I love Italy and Italian food, I can’t help but revisit some of my childhood favorites my mom used to make. Jam squares have always been a favorite and they happen to be one of the first cookie bars my mother ever learned how to make.
Jam bars offer everything: A shortbread crust, a sweet jam center, and a delicious brown sugar meringue topping. Of course, I put my spin on the original and make coconut jam squares. They are fabulous, and that is coming from someone who isn’t even crazy about coconut.
Easy Jam Squares
These delicious bars are made with simple ingredients and are very easy to make.
You can customize this recipe with different flavored jams. I like strawberry jam, but other sweet fruit preserves like apricot jam, blackberry, or raspberry jam are great, too. So, pick your favorite flavor to make it your own.
They’re a freezer-friendly treat, too. I can remember when my mother used to make these squares and then freeze them because you never knew when they would be needed. Back then, I would slip down to the freezer and I wouldn’t think twice about taking out a few, even if they were frozen!
Now I don’t even have to eat them frozen or wait till they thaw. They’re so easy I make them whenever I feel like it. Perks of being a baker!
The combination of the buttery shortbread crust, the flavor of the fruit center, and golden brown meringue topping are just the best. If you want a great cookie bar recipe, you need to give them a try.
- Room temperature salted butter
- Brown Sugar
- Strawberry jam or other berry jam, like blackberry or raspberry jam.
- Egg whites
- Brown sugar
- Flaked coconut
Make the topping first by beating egg whites in a medium bowl until they are stiff. Add sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then fold in the coconut. Set the mixture aside while you prepare the crust.
In a separate large bowl, sift the flour and salt.
In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter and then add the sugar. Mix the butter mixture well at medium speed and then gradually add the dry ingredients.
Once combined, spread the dough and pack it lightly in square baking pan.
Spread a thin layer of the jam over the crust. Add the topping over the top of the jam. Bake the jam bars in the oven at 325°F (170°C) for approximately 35 minutes.
Cool the jam squares in the pan before slicing them into bars.
I think sometimes the best foods are the ones that remind us of wonderful experiences we lived or give us the ability to produce amazing new memories that we will hold on to forever.
Store the cookies in an airtight container, in the fridge they will keep for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
They can also be frozen. Place in a freezer safe container with parchment paper between the layers. They will keep for up to 2-3 months in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge, then bring to room temperature to serve.
For me, these coconut jam squares embed the essence of both, past and future memories. So give them a try and enjoy!
More of My Mom’s Best Recipes
Coconut Jam Squares
- 2 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 3/4 cup butter*
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons jam , strawberry or a berry jam is probably best
*I use salted butter, if you use unsalted then add 1/4 teaspoon of salt instead of a pinch.
- Pre heat oven to 325° (170°). Lightly grease and flour an 8×8 inch (20cm) square pan.
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, add sugar, salt and vanilla, mix well with a wooden spoon, fold in the coconut, set aside.
- Whisk together the flour and salt.
- In a medium bowl cream the butter (beat approximately 1-2 minutes), add the sugar and combine well at medium speed, gradually add the flour mixture, when well mixed, spread and pack lightly in the prepared pan. Thinly spread the base with the jam. Cover with the topping and bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 35 minutes. Cut into small squares when cool. Enjoy!
I made these as directed with reduced sugar strawberry jam and they were very good and enjoyed by guests. I would make these again; however, I would add more than 3 Tablespoons of jam because it didn’t seem enough to cover the base layer.
Hi Nancy, thanks glad they were enjoyed. Sure you can add more. Take care!
These are really good. But crumbly and the short bread base didn’t seem cooked. Left in 10 more minutes
Hi Becky, I think they look unbaked because the jam gives it moisture. Let me know.
This is one of the best cookies I have ever made and the shortbread crust is the best thing ever! Thanks for an amazing recipe!😃
Thanks so much Tammy, it’s my husbands favourite cookie recipe. Have a great week.
Joanne Collett says
I’ve always had an Italian in my kitchen other than my self….And I’m sure more than one at a time……As a young bride of 19, I needed all the help I could get….As the years flew by I have come to cherish the recipes shared on bits of paper..brown paper bags, index cards and once on my arm…lack of paper in car before I phones….And now that I’m one month shy of 79….Welcome to my kitchen if only in the form of this fantastically delicious cookie….every time I cook or bake using the many recipes my family’s great cooks have handed down over all these years I can feel those loved ones who are long gone peering over my shoulder…..so as I usually say , Welcome to my kitchen and thank you for sharing this gem of a recipe!
Hi Joanne, thanks so much, and thank you for sharing, yes nothing like recipes on index cards and pieces of paper. So glad you like the recipe, it’s my husband’s favourite. Take care. And Happy Early Birthday!
Can I make those bars without coconut? Any other suggested substitutes for the coconut? ?
Hi Lisa, what about finely chopped nuts or you could probably leave it out. If you leave it out maybe 3 egg whites would be better. Let me know how it goes.
Great recipe. Bar has wonderful flavor and this will now be a part of my Christmas cookie platter. Also recommend lemon shortbread cookie recipe as well. Thank you again for great recipes !
Hi Doreen, thanks so much, this is my favourite cookie, so when people discover it, it makes me very happy. Merry Christmas.
Susan Axelrod says
These were absolutely delicious. Easy recipe was a plus. Definitely will be making again and quite often.
Hi Susan, thanks so much, these are one of our favourites, glad you like them. Merry Christmas.
A nice changeup from lemon bars. Same shortbread crust but a nice texture on top due to the coconut/brown sugar top with a nice crusting over due to the egg whites. It took about 1/2 cup of jam (i’ve made this with blackberry jam and with lime curd) when I made it, in order to cover the crust. Delicious buttery cookie bars for the holiday cookie exchange!
Thanks Maryann, glad you enjoyed it. Merry Christmas.
JoAnn Giannini says
I have been hunting this recipe for years.
Hi JoAnn, so glad to hear that! These are one of my favourite bar cookies and I have no idea why they aren’t noticed. So thank you for noticing. Have a wonderful Holiday Season.
I used to go down to the basement freezer with my sister and get squares that were put away for some festive occasion. It is a wonderful memory. Much older now and I love to think back on those times! Those squares just tasted so good! It seems like we thought nobody else ever did such a thing. I guess everyone would think the same thing.
Hi Carol, haha glad to know we weren’t the only ones. And yes the frozen cookies always tasted better. 🙂
These Coconut Jam Squares look delicious! Can they be frozen? Might that affect the meringue topping?
Hi Linda, thanks, and yes they can be frozen, my Mom used to freeze them all the time. I don’t because they are my absolute favourite and they never get that far. 🙂 Let me know how it goes.
Thank you , they have always been my favourite.
this looks so yummy!