Dream bars are the less layered ancestor of the seven-layer or magic bar. Here, I riffed on the Coconut Dream Squares from Baker’s Chocolate and Coconut Favorites (1962), replacing the shortbread crust with a chocolate cookie crumb one and adding a bit of salt (like so many of the vintage recipes revamped here, the original called for none), diced banana, just a few mini chocolate chips (because . . . chocolate), and deeply toasted walnuts for good measure. The result is an awfully dreamy twenty first century bar, with a deliciously sticky and chewy topping.
Grease a 9-in-by-9-in [23-cm-by-23-cm] pan with nonstick cooking spray or softened butter. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and up two sides, grease the paper, and set aside.
For the crust, place the wafers and granulated sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until finely ground. Add the melted butter and process until combined, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula, if needed. Transfer the crumbs to the prepared pan and, using your fingers, press them evenly on the bottom of the pan. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days, tightly covered in plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C].
Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until it is dry to the touch and slightly puffy. Let cool completely.
For the topping In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and vanilla on medium-high speed until quite frothy, at least 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and beat again for 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a wire mesh sieve, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over the bowl. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet with a rubber spatula. Gently fold in the walnuts, coconut, bananas, and chocolate chips.
Pour the topping over the crust and spread evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until the top is nicely browned, looks set, and is no longer wet.
Let the bars come to room temperature and refrigerate until cold (this will make slicing the bars easier). Serve cold or at room temperature. The bars will keep in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
Bio: Jessie Sheehan is a cookbook author, food writer, recipe developer, and baker. She is the author of The Vintage Baker (one of the Washington Post’s best cookbooks of 2018 and beloved by Oprah and Nigella) and the co-author of Icebox Cakes (both published by Chronicle Books). She has developed recipes for many cookbooks, besides her own, and has contributed recipes, written and/or created video content for Better Homes & Garden, Rachael Ray Everyday, the Washington Post, Fine Cooking, Yankee Magazine (October 2020) Epicurious, Food52, The Hallmark channel’s Home & Family Show, The Feed Feed, The Kitchn, TASTE, Chowhound, Yummly, Spruce Eats and Little Sous, among others.