Passion Fruit Bars

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a little obsessed with passion fruit. The flavor, the concept—even the name. When I hear “passion fruit” in my head, it’s invariably being said by someone with a sultry accent, all slow esses and coy head tilts and eyebrow wiggles. It’s a name that’s basically begging you to love it, and when you combine the wink-and-a-nod name with the tart tropical taste, how could I not feel passionate about it?

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Last week I posted a picture of some frozen passion fruit puree on Instagram and Facebook, and got several questions about what I do with it. Gather round, friends, I am happy to spread the gospel of the passion fruit! It’s a pretty easy ingredient to use. Basically, since it’s so tart, I substitute it in baking recipes where I might use lemon juice instead.

So, for instance, in the past I’ve used it to make passion fruit curd, and passion fruit pound cake, and passion fruit tarts. Instead of the pure sour pucker of lemon juice, it has a lovely balance of tart and tropical flavors. It makes everything just a little more interesting, and I knew it would be the perfect way to shake up traditional lemon bars.

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Everyone has their ideal lemon bar, and everyone’s ideal is a bit different. Slim and dainty, or a tower of curd piled sky-high? Crumbly shortbread crust or crispy buttery crust? Extra-sour flavor or moderately sweet? Firm or soft? Zest or no zest? The questions, they are endless.

So in addition to boasting my favorite fruit flavor (call me, passion fruit!), these bars are also my dream texture. The base is a super-crispy buttery crust that comes together in a minute and doesn’t require any chilling. (Chilling is way too high maintenance for me. Hello, you’re the crust, basically the curd delivery system. You don’t get special treatment!) They have the perfect filling-to-crust ratio, and they set enough to easily and neatly cut, but not so much that you feel like you’re chewing gummy worms. In short, purrrrrr.

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I knew that I loved these bars, but the real test came when we served them to a few friends. Some of them thought they were lemon bars before they tasted them, and were so surprised—and happy!—to find a whole new flavor waiting for them! They were a universal hit, and I think I made a few more passion fruit converts that day.

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Here are my two secret weapons for making these bars: frozen passion fruit pulp and non-melting powdered sugar. The passion fruit pulp is from a local Mexican grocery store—if your area has a sizable Latino population, chances are the freezer section might have a similar product! You can probably substitute the pulp of fresh passion fruit, but those are much harder for me to track down, and I haven’t tried it myself. If you use the frozen puree, just make sure it’s defrosted (duh) before making the recipe.

Non-melting powdered sugar is one of those professional tricks that I think everyone should know about. If you’ve ever made a dessert and sprinkled a gorgeous layer of powdered sugar on top, only to find that it’s absorbed moisture from the dessert and turned into a wet, gloopy mess, this is the product for you! It’s basically powdered sugar microscopically coated with fat, so that the sugar doesn’t absorb any moisture and stays pristine for days. It is a lifesaver for desserts like these bars, which often start to get damp and gross-looking in a matter of minutes. The texture is a little finer than powdered sugar—maybe a cross between powdered sugar and corn starch?—which you can kind of tell in the close-up pictures. Taste-wise, I can’t tell a difference between regular powdered sugar, especially since it’s usually used in very small amounts as a garnish.

I bought mine from a local LA culinary supply store (Surfas, holla!). You can buy it from Surfas online, or King Arthur Flour also carries their own brand.

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These bars taste like rainbows and happiness and small woodland creatures frolicking in dappled sunlight….or maybe just like really good, really spring-y treats. Either way, give them a try!

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Passion Fruit Bars
Crust recipe from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert
yield: 9×13 pan

For the Crust:
8 oz unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour

For the Filling:
8 large eggs
2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups passion fruit puree (I used one 14 oz Goya pouch)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

To Make the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×13 pan with foil so that it extends up the sides, and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Once mixed, add the flour and stir with a spatula until combined and no streaks of flour remain. Scrape the dough into the pan and press it into an even layer. It might seem a little greasy—this is normal.

Bake the crust for 25-30 minutes at 350 F, until it’s golden brown on top. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling so it’s ready to go as soon as the crust is done.

To Make the Filling:
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, and passion fruit puree. Sift the flour on top of the egg mixture, and whisk it in as well.

When the filling is done baking, slide the rack part-way out of the oven. Pour the filling over the hot crust and slide it back into the oven. Reduce the temperature to 325 F and bake for 25-30 minutes. It’s done when the center barely jiggles when you tap the pan.

Once done, remove the pan from the oven and let it cool until it reaches room temperature. For the cleanest cuts, refrigerate the bars and cut them when completely cold. To cut, remove the bars from the pan using the foil as handles. Use a large sharp chef’s knife and wipe it off often between cuts. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar before serving. Store Passion Fruit Bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

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18 Responses to Passion Fruit Bars
  1. Danguole says:

    I knew you were gonna do something awesome with that puree!

    Secondly, the powdered sugar! Oh my word. As someone who’s taken powdered sugar to gatherings to dust it on at the last minute… Mind=blown. This is one of the many reasons I read and love your blog!

  2. Maria says:

    Love this! I grew up eating passion fruit and love it’s tangy, sour flavor. Here are a couple other ideas…my mom always made us smoothies (just pulp, milk, ice & sugar) and I use it to make a passion fruit vodka martini!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks for the ideas! I’ve tried adding it to smoothies but I felt guilty adding a lot of sugar, so I ended up with a super-sour drink. Guess I should just suck it up and get on the sugar-in-smoothies train! :)

  3. These are simply lovely! I adore the tropical spin on a classic treat. And that tip about the non melting powdered sugar?? Thank you!!!

  4. These sound sublime! I absolutely love your pictures too – they look so fresh and sunny!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Rosie! It is freakin’ gorgeous in LA right now so I have to celebrate it before it gets gross and hot.

  5. simmy says:

    it’s so yummy gorgious

  6. Jorie says:

    Hello!!!! And…..ohmygosh! I was all set to go to sleep when I ran across your site and this amazing post on passion fruit!!! (Trying to remain calm…. failing a bit.). I was introduced to fresh passion fruit in Punta Cana a couple summers ago and then found the very same frozen pulp when we returned home. Other than adding it to smoothies (wow!) and making a refrigerator jam (toast goes to a whole new level!), I’ve not run across any recipe using it, but have been imagining a lemon bar-type thing…. And voila! Here it is! I *cannot* wait to give it (and your others) a try. Thank you! Here’s to passion fruit dreams!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Jorie, thanks for the awesome comment! I am obviously obsessed with passion fruit and I’m so glad to meet another devotee! What’s your recipe for the refrigerator jam? That sound amazing! And please do let me know what you think if you give these a try–I hope you love them!

  7. Alicia says:

    Ho-Lee-Cow! I found your site via Pinterest.
    These look completely amazing and I can not wait to run down to my local Mercado to see if I can find passion fruit pulp. Hubs and I went to HI a couple of months ago and fell in love with passion fruit. I have since been resigned to the idea that I will never again partake of it (since buying them individually for recipes that require large amounts) isn’t very practical. So – Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  8. Alan Brown says:

    I wonder if you have any sugar-free passion fruit recipes? I love sour and bitter flavors, like dipping raw rhubarb in salt. I was just diagnosed with diabetes, and need to drastically change my eating and lifestyle patterns of exercise.
    Most diabetic foods are very bland. I know there are many candies made with sugar alcohols that taste good. I would like to find other desserts that are sugar-free.
    Thanks!

  9. joyce gilman says:

    Could I do with mango puree instead?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Joyce, I haven’t personally tried it with mango, but my guess is that it would work just fine. If you do give it a try, please let me know how it goes!

  10. Angellarts says:

    Love all your Passion Fruit recipes! I first bought some very expensive passion fruit puree from a chef’s supplier [AUISwiss], because my daughter wanted a passion fruit tart, and I had tasted their puree. I didn’t even know what a passion fruit looked like. I just liked the taste.
    I lived in San Diego CA. A male neighbor makes savory foods. I make desserts! Crazy, outrageous, sweet, items from my teeny test kitchen. He, along with my husband and family help me by consuming all, ONLY AFTER the photos. He brings me fresh lemons for lemon sorbet and more. Fresh tomatoes and delicious savory dishes.
    One day he brings me a bag of wrinkly and smooth purple round things and asked me and my adult daughter to guess what they were. We said mini eggplants, plums, figs? I smelled them and they kind of smelled like a date or really sweet something delicious. He was delighted and mischievous that he knew something I didn’t. When he announced PASSION FRUIT, our eyes bulged and our mouths started watering! FRESH PASSION FRUIT! My mind went crazy!
    Without minutes, I started researching about preparation, seeds, etc. In the meantime, my husband (76 yrs old- I am only in my 70′s, oh, I mean 29 again) comes out, grabs a few, cuts them in half, scoops out the insides, throws into a food processor with enough water to cover and pulses a few times! “To release the pulp from the seeds” He says kind of arrogantly. We all look at him with kind of jealous looks. He explained that while we lived on a Caribbean island for 12 years, and I was visiting the children in San Diego, “he” researched and experimented with passion fruit from the natives! and didn’t tell me!

    While “I” was in the islands, I found you on About: and made at least 100 of your recipes! All delicious. Have beautiful photos. Now, I found you again while we are now back in beautiful So California.

    The smell of the fresh passion fruit was amazing! Again, our mouths were watering.
    I strained the seeds and some pieces of white pulp while saving the watered juice, added some sugar, heated, cooled, used ice cream maker and made the most delicious PASSION FRUIT SORBET!

    Found that the seeds are entirely edible and full of great health benefits, so added a few for decorations. Everyone who tasted it loved it! He is bringing more bags of passion fruits. Making the sorbet was soooo quick and easy.
    Sorry to make anyone envious about the wonderful resources in San Diego.
    Thanks for all the wonderful passion fruit recipes.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Angellarts, what a fun comment! Thanks for visiting my blog! I’ve had the AUISwiss passion fruit puree, and while it is delicious, you’re right–it’s pricey. You are SO lucky to have access to fresh passion fruit! I’ll try not to hold it against you. :) I hope you’re able to find all sorts of awesome ways to enjoy them on behalf of the rest of us. ;)

  11. Mark says:

    At 47, I had my 1st passion fruit this year.

    They are expensive at $150-$1.75, but I love those sweet-tart little seeds.

    I wish I knew how to make them into a drink.

    Walmart is the only store where you can go to buy Welch’s newest half gallon carts of Passion Fruit drink & Kiwi Fruit drink.

    They taste oh, so wonderful!

    I tried to get Carnival Foods in Lancaster, OH to carry them, giving the manager the name & UPC code, but he got back with me explaining that his distributor doesn’t carry that product.

    I was a little peeved! If I were any grocery store that can’t get wonderful new products, I’d leave that distributor and find another who could meet not only my need for regular items, but also for those fantastic new items that customers long to have to break the feeling of their consumers every day monotony!

    Everyone needs to try this product! Walmart, YEAH!!!

  12. RyeBlossom says:

    Passion fruit… mmm… ^____^

    Do you think it’ll work out with jackfruit?
    (I know, it’s a silly-lazy question, but I’d like to hear your thoughts, *before* I use something expensive…)
    Thanks!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi! I’m sorry to say I actually don’t have any experience with jackfruit! Do you often substitute jackfruit for passion fruit in recipes? If you’ve had success doing it in the past, then it would probably work here too. You can definitely substitute other sour and semi-sour juices, like lemon, lime, grapefruit, and mango puree in this recipe. So if jackfruit puree has a similar consistency and is also fairly sour, it should be okay! (If it is too sweet, the amount of sugar in the recipe will be out of whack and your bars will probably be too sweet.) I’m sorry to not be of more help! If you do try it with jackfruit, please let me know how it goes!

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