Pineapple Coconut Dream Bars

I'm back friends! I'm slowly {and reluctantly} getting back into reality, but I'm so happy to be back to regular blogging. I missed you all! I promise this week will be more fun. Starting with these dreamy bars!

The summertime is filled with fun gatherings with friends and family. I love using these gatherings as an opportunity to turn up the creativity on my baked goods. Some of these events have spawned some really fun and delicious treats. Like my pretzel-crusted brownies, chocolate glazed potato chip shortbread, malted chocolate cupcakes and many, many others. So when I still had that jar of unopened virgin coconut oil sitting in my pantry, the creativity wheels started turning. What goes with coconut in the summertime? ...um, Pineapple!



In all honesty, I messed up these bars when I made them. My initial intention was to mix a can of crushed pineapple into the cake batter before baking. About halfway through the baking time, I stopped mid-conversation with Shaun and screamed out...

“I forgot to add the pineapple!”

Needless to say, his assessment of me being a crazy {yet loveable} lady was validated. But that was the whole point of the cake part - to have pineapple.



But as I’ve learned in baking...as long as you don’t screw up royally (like being unable to get your cake out of the pan...or forgetting to add a really major ingredient like baking soda), there is always a way to fix things. I decided to make a pineapple syrup on the stovetop by mixing the crushed pineapple with 1/2 C of sugar. While the cake was cooling, I merely poked holes all over the top of the cake and spooned some of the pineapple mixture onto it. Crisis averted.

They were super moist and fluffy...like biting into a cloud. I know it’s corny, but these pillowy bars are honestly one of the best things I’ve ever made. EVER. The cake is light vanilla with just a hint of pineapple. The frosting. Oooooh the frosting. The coconut oil adds a silky smoothness that I just have not achieved with butter along with just a subtle hint of coconut flavor. It all comes together in one heavenly bar that I really cannot get out of my mind.



Pineapple Coconut Dream Bars
For the pineapple bars:
*basic yellow cake recipe from America’s Test Kitchen
1 ¾ C cake flour (I use Swan’s Down)
½ C whole milk
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into pieces
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, in its own juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 13 x 9 inch cake pan. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla together.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the speed on medium low, beat the butter into the flour mixture. Continue to beat the mixture until it is moist crumbs. This will take about 1 minute.

Beat in all but 1/2 C of the milk mixture. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the remainder of the milk mixture, about 15 seconds. With a rubber spatula, add the crushed pineapple (or, if you forget, combine the pineapple and 1/2 C sugar on the stovetop until it lightly boils. Prick holes in the top of the cooled cake and spoon some of the pineapple over top).

Once the batter is thoroughly mixed, scrape the batter into the pan using a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes (or more if not done). Cool and frost.

For the cream cheese coconut frosting:
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
½ stick butter, at room temperature
2-3 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 C confectioners’ sugar
sweetened shredded coconut, for garnish

Beat the cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix in the vanilla and coconut oil. Beat in the sugar, 1 cup at a time. Beat until light and fluffy.

Carefully spread the frosting all over the cake. Sprinkle the top with the shredded coconut. Cut into squares - the perfect way to serve dessert at a party, in my opinion.



Aren’t they beautiful? I adore the simplicity of the white frosting with the shredded coconut. So chic. And so yummy.



And in this little bar size, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat like 2 or 3. Or 5.ο»Ώ

So there you have it. One of my favorite desserts thus far. So what do you think?

What is your favorite summer flavor? Or your favorite flavor combination in general?

psst...Christine-bean is blogging about summer movies over at The Peach & The Pit. Hope you'll head over to check it out!

Key Lime in the Coconut Cupcakes Make for a Gluttonous Father's Day

In between eating delicious food all over the city and beyond as well as pop culturing to my heart's desire, I aspire to be a domestic goddess. I'll admit that sometimes I do curse myself after offering to bring a savory dip to a party or (in my weakest, wedding-dazed filled moment) volunteer to make 150 Magnolia cupcakes for my own engagement party (no, I'm so not exaggerating and I have the carpal tunnel syndrome to prove it...almost). But I do enjoy cooking and especially baking...and that's about as far as my domestic lasso will grasp.

With total disregard for terrible, rainy weather (in hopes that if I don't acknowledge it, it won't exist), I decided to whip up some Key Lime in the Coconut Cupcakes in honor of the usually summery Father's Day. Inspired by a recipe from Ultimate Recipe Showdown (where did that show go? I really do watch them ALL), I altered this one a bit to fit my schedule and my desire to bake. It was all made possible with a little help from my friends.

My favorite appliance...if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

Chopped white chocolate adds some extra flavor to the icing


A doctored-up cake mix and no one will know the difference

Recipe for Coconut Cake
*Inspired by Food Network
1 box Classic White cake mix
1 tsp almond extract
1 C sweetened coconut
Zest of 1 lime
2+ tbsp Key Lime juice (from bottle if you can't find real Key limes)
Directions: Prepare cake mix as directed on box, adding in the almond extract. Fold in coconut, lime juice, and zest before baking. Bake as directed on box.


White Chocolate Frosting
*Ok, this I lifted directly from foodnetwork.com and you can see the full recipe here. Noted below are the elements I changed
5 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
1 cup (2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (leave it out over night. seriously.)
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I did not sift, and it was just fine)
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon key lime juice (bottled or freshly squeezed)...(I used more like 2 tbsp because I wanted it to be limey)
1/4 cup sour cream
Finely grated key lime zest & sprinkles, for garnish
2 drops food coloring (I like green for lime)

Directions: In a small heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, carefully and slowly melt the white chocolate. Remove from heat and let cool until just slightly warm. (*Note: I did this in the microwave. Heat at 30 second intervals, mixing in between. Do NOT overheat). Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar until well combined. Add the salt, vanilla extract, key lime juice, and sour cream and mix until very smooth. Add the melted white chocolate and mix just until incorporated.

Deliciously fluffy icing of the key lime variety

My biggest tip: Even if you are making a boxed cake mix cake, making your own frosting makes all the difference in the world. If you make your own frosting, instead of serving that canned garbage icing to your friends and family, they won't even notice the boxed cake mix. And my favorite aspect...The frosting is the easiest part to make.

Ta Da!

To cart these little babies around, I got a handy cupcake caddy from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. $25 with a never-fail coupon and worth every penny!

My super adorable cupcake caddy...makes the carting of fab cupcakes possible!

Any other cupcake recipes out there? I'm a sucker for beautiful, delicious cupcakes and always looking for new recipes. If so, write to us, include photos, and we'll share with our readers!