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?, 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 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 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!