Pineapple Bars

Pineapple BarsThis has been the best summer I’ve had in years. I turned 31, spent a week on a sparsely-populated island off the coast of Maine with close friends (is it too early to start planning next year’s trip?), ended a four year stint as a nanny, and got to help my sister move much closer to me. I’m not ready for this incredible season to end. When I was having a rough time earlier this year, a wise friend of mine said “Remember, summer is coming. Magic happens in the summer.” I’m not sure that this is exactly what he meant, but for me, this summer has indeed been magical. Thank goodness there are technically three weeks left.

But it’s September, and that means fall is coming and bringing pumpkin everything with it. Pumpkin is already all over my social media, on the blogs I read, and popping up at coffee shops in my neighborhood. It seems everyone in America is ready for everything they eat and drink to be burnt orange and cinnamon-scented. Except for me, apparently.

Pineapple BarsDon’t get me wrong, I am all about pumpkin, but I’m not exactly craving all the flavors of fall right this minute. It’s 80 degrees out. All of my sweaters are in a box under my bed. I don’t need a scarf or a pair of boots, nor do I want any warm beverages. Not yet. I’m still firmly in summer-mode…at least for another week or so.

So today, I’m leaving my cans of pumpkin in the cabinet and enjoying the unofficial last weekend of summer with these Pineapple Bars: a dreamy pineapple filling baked over a shortbread crust, sliced into bars and dusted with confectioner’s sugar!

Pineapple BarsThis recipe is a tropical adaptation of the Lemon Bars I posted while on vacation a few weeks ago. Instead of the usual citrus, they’re made with unsweetened pineapple juice and crushed pineapple. These bars quicker to make than those that inspired them. Once the four-ingredient shortbread crust goes into the oven to set, the filling comes together in just a few minutes. Where Lemon Bars (and citrus desserts in general) involve lots of tedious zesting and juicing, the filling for these Pineapple Bars just involves whisking ingredients together. Pour the filling over the crust and bake it for 40 minutes, until it’s no longer jiggly. Then pop them into the fridge for a few hours before slicing them up. All that’s left to do is sift some confectioner’s sugar over the tops!

Pineapple Bars are cold, sweet, and tangy–the perfect treat to salute the end of this fantastic summer! Make a batch this Labor Day weekend.

Pineapple BarsAre you ready for fall?

Pineapple Bars
makes one 8-inch pan, about 16 bars

Shortbread Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cubed

Filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons half-and-half (or heavy cream)
1/2 cup no-sugar-added pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained

For Topping:
1/4-1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving overhang at the edges. Grease foil with butter. Set aside.

Make the shortbread crust. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Mixture will be very dry and crumbly. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and use clean fingertips to press it into one even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.

Place sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs and egg yolk one at a time, mixing completely after each addition. Whisk in melted butter, followed by half-and-half (or heavy cream), pineapple juice, and vanilla. Mix in all-purpose flour and salt, followed by crushed pineapple. Mixture will be thin. Pour filling over the shortbread crust. Bake for 40-45 minutes, tenting with foil at the 10 minute mark. Let cool completely on a rack before chilling for at least four hours.

Set a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper. Use the foil overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel foil from the edges. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Set bars on prepared rack. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the tops of the bars.

Serve bars immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.

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