If you’re a tropical fruit fan, these Passion Fruit Cheesecake Bars are sure to be a hit in your home. The bars have a creamy cheesecake layer that sits on top of a coconut shortbread crust, so you get two layers of tropical flavor. The topping contains a generous amount of fresh passion fruit pulp and the floral sweetness of the fruit stands out nicely against that tangy cream cheese background. I used fresh passion fruit and highly recommend using it to get the best flavor. The seeds of the fruit are edible and can be left in the cheesecake batter, both to add a little texture to the bars and to highlight the fact that you used fresh passion fruits. You may want to strain some of the fruit juice so that you don’t get too many seeds in the mix, however.
The Coconut Shortbread Crust includes quite a bite of shredded coconut. I used untoasted, sweetened coconut, as the shortbread itself is not very sweet and the extra sweetness allows the flavor of the coconut to come through. If you have a few minutes and want to toast your coconut before using it, it will give the crust a deeper brown color and a more carmelized coconut flavor – a flavor that will work with the passion fruit just as well as the untoasted coconut does. Since it is loaded with coconut, this crust has a slight chewiness to it and, while it is firm enough to easily support the cheesecake filling, it is not as crisp as some other shortbreads. That said, it also doesn’t get soggy easily, so your bars should last for a couple of days in the refrigerator after baking as long as they are stored in an airtight container.
These bars remind me of the last time that I was in Hawaii because many of the desserts that I enjoyed there used passion fruit and coconut. The flavors offer a little “escape” without leaving the comfort of your kitchen. That said, they’re no replacement for a trip to the islands, but they’ll be ready in less time than it’ll take you to get through security at the airport!!
Passion Fruit Cheesecake Bars with Coconut Shortbread Crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup fresh passion fruit puree
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup greek yogurt or sour cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, shredded coconut and sugar. Add in melted butter and stir until mixture resembles wet sand and starts to come together. If your mixture looks dry (some coconuts are drier than others), stir in a tablespoon of milk or water. Press crust mixture firmly into prepared pan.
Bake for 15-19 minutes, until crust begins to brown around the edges
Prepare the filling: In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar, egg, passion fruit puree, salt and yogurt until very smooth. Set aside until crust is done baking. While the crust is still hot from the oven, pour cheesecake filling over it, using a spatula to spread the mixture into the corners of the pan.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the cheesecake is set. Allow bars to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until well-chilled before slicing and serving.
Makes 20 bars.