Saturday, March 10, 2007

Creamy tropical flavored bars...

Even though we are out in the Midwest now, I still have quite a few recipes that we've made this past week and need to get posted. So we won't be back home until Friday, but I do still have plenty to talk about!

A couple days ago, I mentioned we had some leftover pineapple that we used in a side dish that night. I actually bought the pineapple in the first place to use it in these these fun Piña Colada Cheesecake Bars that I made earlier in the week.

Honey graham cracker crumbs mixed with coconut flour, crunchy turbinado sugar and ground ginger are tossed with melted butter and canola oil to form the crisp base to these bars. Coconut flour is a bit sweet, gluten-free and has a high fiber count... however, this flour can be quite expensive ($5-8 a pound!) . If you don't feel like splurging, you can just use all-purpose flour instead. The cheesecake section of these bars is lighter than your ordinary mixture as the cream cheese is cut with cottage cheese. Since it is pureed smooth, you won't notice any lumps from the cottage cheese and the texture is still good, but it will be different - it wont have that firm consistency that one may expect. The flavor didn't seem to suffer much though. A tropical flare flavors the cheesecake batter from the additions of fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, pineapple juice and a splash of vanilla for good measure.

Once the sun-kissed batter is poured over the crust and has had a chance to bake, the entire batch needs to sit in the refrigerator until well chilled so the flavors have a chance to develop and they have a chance to set up so you get clean slices when you cut them into bars. Diced pineapple is scattered on top after the bars have baked and cooled so you get that fresh tangy burst of sweetness they add. Since pineapple and coconut go so well together, a sprinkling of golden toasted coconut on top is a perfect way to round out these creamy treats with a crunch and contrast in color. I do have one suggestion - I would wait until right before you serve them to add the coconut - we found that it softened quite a bit as the bars sat in the refrigerator and we missed that bite the freshly toasted coconut added.