Chef Jeff Mahin's Gluten-free Coconut Pecan Bars
Chef Jeff Mahin, who competed on the first season of ABC's The Taste and oversees the kitchens at seven (!) restaurants — Summer House and Stella Barra Pizzeria in Chicago and M Street Kitchen and two pizzerias in LA — that focus on fresh, seasonal, farmers market ingredients. He always experiments with flavor and also consciously cooks for people with gluten intolerance — the restaurants all have gluten-free menus, even Do-Rite Donuts, where he's also a partner. So it was a natural fit when we asked him to create a recipe using eSutras' gluten-free coconut flour. After playing around with savory dishes, he landed on a perfect gluten-free coconut pecan bar.
Jeff Mahin's Gluten-free Coconut Pecan Bars
For the Crust:
- 8 oz. butter
- 4 oz. light brown sugar
- 9 oz. eSutras coconut flour
- 6 oz. toasted shredded
- Pinch of salt
- Mix all ingredients together
in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until well combined.
- Press into the bottom of a buttered 9” x 13” baking dish.
- Blind bake (pre-bake without filling) in a 325-degree oven until light golden
For the Filling:
- 2 oz. butter
- ½ vanilla bean, split and
- 2 eggs
- 4 yolks
- 6 oz. light brown sugar
- 5 oz. sugar
- 6 oz. light corn syrup
- 1 oz. bourbon
- 10 ounces toasted pecan halves
- In a small saucepan, brown
together the butter and vanilla.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugars and
- Slowly whisk in the browned butter.
- Whisk in the corn syrup and bourbon.
- Line the pre-baked crust with
- Pour the filling on top.
- Bake at 325 for about 15–20 minutes until golden brown and set.
Q&A with chef Jeff Mahin on eSutras Coconut Flour
Abe's Market: What attracted you to coconut flour?
Jeff Mahin: It just interested me and I've never really worked with it. I've used coconut in so many applications in different forms, but never the flour. So it seemed like a challenge.
Abe's: Did it live up to challenge?
Mahin: Because I've never worked with coconut flour I didn't have high expectations. I did some research and it looked like it was used in a lot of gluten-free baking, which I do a lot of in the restaurants. It took us a few tries to work with it. We did gluten-free coconut pasta, which didn't work out. I tried toasted coconut over pan-seared fish. Then we started thinking about bars because you could use it in so many different ways. I had fun testing so many different recipes.
Abe's: How was working with it versus wheat-based flour or
Mahin: Gluten plays a huge factor in those flours. I think I had to get over calling it "flour." The minute you call it flour you have expectations of it being in the flour family. It's more of a powder. For me it was a mental challenge; it isn't starchy or gluten-y. Once you take that idea that it's a powder, it opens more possibilities.
Abe's: Was that frustrating?
Mahin: No not at all. I love things I don't understand. That's why I'm a chef. When you're challenged with a new ingredient, especially that you haven't worked with, it makes it exciting. It was also fun for the staff. Everyone was drawing blanks and then we worked through it together. It's a project and an idea where you start with a raw ingredient you know nothing about and through trials and past experience, you're able to make something you can eat. I wouldn't have been drawn to use coconut flour before this.
Abe's: How easy is this for the home chef to make?
Mahin: It's pretty simple to make. It's a bar. The home cook is familiar with bars and pastries and it's the same method, but with different ingredients. That's how we sort of "cheated." We took a method that we were familiar with and applied it to this.
Abe's: What are some things home chefs should know when working
with coconut flour?
Mahin: It's not going to do what flour is supposed to do. That's the biggest challenge. You're working with something you don't know about. You have to adapt to what it's going to do versus what you want it to do. You can't force something to do something, like the coconut pasta. It wasn't going to work. The product will do what the product will do. You can't make an egg into lettuce.
Mahin: That's the interesting thing, it's like coconut oil. It's supposed to be healthier for you; there's fat in it but the fat is good for you. I'm not a nutritionist but coconut flour probably has some really healthy properties. The bar itself is by no means healthy, but it's good. What's the fun of a healthy dessert?