Lemon bars are a favorite dessert of mine since they’re easy to make and most importantly, taste great. Creamy and rich from the eggs, a bit of sweetness with a hit of tartness, they are a wonderful dessert. This is a variation on the classic lemon bar. In this recipe I used lilikoi (passion fruit) an exotic tropical fruit which has an extraordinarily fragrant scent. Once the fruit is open, the entire room is filled with a wonderful essence that lingers in the air. It’s mesmerizing….
Now that we grow our own lilikoi I’m always searching for new recipes. The fruit hangs gracefully from the vines and drops to the ground once ripe. They can be left on the counter for a few days and will become more fragrant as each day passes. Their taut skin becomes wrinkled, and honestly, they look very homely at this stage. But don’t throw them out! This is perfect time to get out the food mill if you have one, and collect the precious juice. The food mill is ingenious. It presses out the juice from the fruit and leaves all the seeds behind. If you don’t have a food mill use cheese cloth or a jelly bag to strain the juice. I freeze the juice in 1 and 2 cup containers to use later. Speaking of searching for new recipes, I found this excellent recipe on Hungry Cravings. The shredded coconut in the crust is absolutely divine. The coconut becomes nicely toasted as the crust bakes and adds a delicious note to the bars. Don’t leave it out.
Lilikoi-Coconut Bars (Passion Fruit-Coconut Bars)
Adapted from Hungry Cravings
For the crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I used lactose-free Buttery Sticks)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon kosher salt if using Buttery Sticks)
For the lilikoi-coconut layer:
4 large eggs
1/4 cup coconut milk
6 ounces fresh lilikoi juice
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
powdered sugar, for dusting
Make the crust:
Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil leaving an overhang on all sides. This makes it a breeze to lift out the entire tart once thoroughly cooled. Lightly butter the foil. Whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, coconut, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer the dough to the baking dish and press into an even layer and up the sides of the pan about 1/3 – 1/2 inch. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step as it will help to keep the crust from shrinking and pulling away from the sides of the pan which will cause the lilikoi mixture to seep under the crust. While dough is chilling in the refrigerator, pre-heat the oven to 350° then bake for about 20 – 22 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Make the lilikoi-coconut layer:
Blend together the eggs, coconut milk, and lilikoi juice in a small bowl. Whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add the lilikoi mixture to the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour over the baked crust and bake for 16 – 18 minutes, or until just set. Let cool to room temperature then transfer to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Using the edges of foil, lift the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into portions and dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
*Updated the dough procedure to include pressing dough up the sides of the pan about 1/3 – 1/2 inch prior to baking. This provides a barrier for the lilikoi mixture when you pour it over the baked crust (it could seep down the sides of the baked crust if this is not done).