I come to you today with my first recipe, and believe me, it's a good one! Check out these Hawaiian Cheesecake Bars—a true summer delicacy.
They've got a sugar cookie-like crust, a pineapple cheesecake filling, and it's topped with toasted coconut. YUM!
I originally found this recipe when I was maybe 13, 14? Somehow, I acquired a ton of cookbooks—mostly hand-me-downs from my friend's mom—and I used to spend my time (even at sleepovers) reading them like novels. I would star the ones that sounded good, and I even got around to making a few.
One of which was these Hawaiian Cheesecake Bars. They were so good, but for years I couldn't find the recipe again (or couldn't be bothered to look through all the cookbooks to find it more specifically).
Just a few months ago, though, I finally found it! I decided it was time to get rid of at least 75% of the cookbooks I haven't cracked open in years, and as I skimmed each one to decide if it went into the "garage sale" pile or not, I kept my eyes peeled for my yummy Hawaiian bars.
The recipe came from this Polk County "A Taste of Home" collection.
Here's the actual recipe itself. Mine is an adapted one—very similar but with a few minor adjustments regarding cooking time, measurements, etc. After a few trials, I found what works best for me and what I'd recommend for you guys to try.
BUT in case you'd like to follow the original, here it is...
It was originally contributed to the collection by Mrs. Carol (Greg) Mountain, Handi.
Test it out! Whether you try the original or my adapted recipe below, tell me if it's as big of a hit in your household as it is in mine!
Everything you need
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 sticks (16 tbsp) butter
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 (20oz) can crushed pineapple
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Start by preheating oven to 350° F.
In a medium or large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and 2 sticks of butter.
NOTE: The recipe called for 2 cups of butter. That didn't make sense to me; it seemed far too much if you're counting each stick of butter as 1/2 cup. That would be 4 sticks. I opted for 2 and it worked very well. Save yourself the calories!
I let the butter soften a bit, cubed it (as shown in the picture), and combined it with the flour and sugar with a fork until I got a crumbly mixture. It's okay if there are still small chunks of butter, as they'll melt in the oven and create little air pockets.
**I have just melted the butter in the past, and it didn't make a significant difference.
Pack it into a parchment paper-lined 9" x 13" x 2" pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
While that's baking, in a large bowl, blend cream cheese, sugar, milk, and eggs with a hand-mixer for 1-2 minutes. You likely won't get every cream cheese chunk out, but you want it to be as smooth as possible.
With a spatula, fold in the crushed pineapple and vanilla.
Really make sure your pineapple is well drained. It's easy to think it's well drained until it plops out, and you find was a lot more juice within all the crushed pineapple pieces. I used this little can drainer and even dumped out all the pineapple onto it to make sure there was little to no juice left.
Pour the filling on top of the partially-baked crust and put it back in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
While that's baking, you can prepare the toasted coconut.
The original recipe calls for the coconut flakes to be sprinkled on top before entering the oven again, but I had the hardest time getting the coconut to toast to my liking that way. You most likely would have to broil it. I found it easier to toast it in a pan. You don't even need to add butter!
Just keep an eye on it because coconut (like many nuts) can go from white to black too fast.
Sprinkle the coconut on top, let it rest for at least an hour, and then cut it into bars. I used a tough metal spatula for this part to cut through the denser cookie-like crust on the bottom.
Look at this beauty! Sooo good.
Hawaiian Cheesecake Bars Recipe
Please bear with me while I figure out the best way to display recipe cards. It is going to require some coding, which takes time, so hopefully this suffices until then!
This recipe varies from the original in a few ways, such as by using 2 sticks of butter instead of two cups of butter, cooking the crust and filling each for extra time, and by toasting the coconut separately.
Adding sea salt into the toasted coconut is optional. It creates a slightly sweet & salty taste.
I always use parchment paper when I can. You can also opt for a greased pan, or the original recipe even states an ungreased pan. Do so at your own risk of sticking. :)
I HAVE melted the butter for the crust instead of incorporating it with a fork into a crumbly mixture. I didn't notice a significant difference, but having the small chunks of butter instead of melted butter may allow for delicious air pockets when the butter melts in the oven. Either way results in a sugar cookie-like crust.
This recipe was originally made my Mrs. Carol (Greg) Mountain, Handi.
Between the coconut and the pineapple, this recipe gives me such tropical summer vibes! I love it!
I think my favorite part about it is that it's the perfect amount of sweetness. Not a sugar overload, but not bitter by any means either. Definitely still categorized a dessert.
Did you try it? If so, let me know what you think!
Until next time...