Guava Coconut Crumble Bars

A couple of months ago, I came across a recipe for Guava Bars on Serious Eats. Since then, I've been waiting for a chance to finally bake up a batch. That time has come at last.

Mother's Day weekend is here, and with it, it brings...bouquets of tulips, peonies, and snapdragons (or just orchids, if you're my mom)...relaxing brunches with a mimosa or two (or four)...and overwhelming feelings of love and joy that could only be expressed through a Hallmark card. (Okay, I'm kidding about that last part.)

Breakfast in bed and Sunday brunches are popular ways to pamper Mom, and these Guava Coconut Crumble Bars could be a perfect addition to any of them!

A buttery soft shortbread layer serves as the foundation for these bars.

Start by creaming the butter and sugar on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.

With the mixer on "stir", carefully add the flour and salt. Scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Once the dough comes together, place it right onto a baking dish. (Which, I forgot to grease. But, luckily, the baking gods were forgiving and my dessert did not suffer.)

Press the dough into an even layer to fill out the bottom of the dish.

Next, the filling! Guava paste makes a sweet-yet-tart, tropical filling for these bars. You can find guava paste at most Caribbean and South American specialty markets, but Hawaiian guava jam is a perfect substitute. I always bring home jars and jars and jars of guava jam after trips to Hawai'i, and this recipe would be a great way to deal with that surplus...

Funny story: I actually finally found guava paste at...drum roll please...the commissary. As in, the Latin/Asian foods aisle of the commissary at Travis AFB.

Cut the paste into 1/4-in. thick slices, then completely cover the surface of the shortbread dough. You'll be working with a pound of guava paste, so don't be afraid to arrange the slices pretty close together. Plus, the paste doesn't melt or become gooey like jelly, so it won't spread out much.    

To make the crumble topping, I added almond meal and finely shredded coconut to the original version's ingredients. The almond meal adds a subtle nutty flavor, and the coconut flakes add a unique richness.

A food processor is the quickest and easiest way to make the crumble, but a pastry blender and some muscle could work just as well.

Cover the guava and shortbread with generous sprinklings of the crumble. Then, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Now, you'll want to dive right into a big chunk...because the coconut, butter, and guava will smell, stand-by-your-oven-door-and-just-inhale "heavenly"... but don't do it! Give this sweet treat time to cool before you slice it.

I promise...It's worth the wait, good things come to those who wait, patience is a virtue, and all of those other cliches....The top crisps and browns, the filling is thick and sweet, and the shortbread crumbles and melts in your mouth. You'll be happy. Mom will be happy. And that's what really matters, am I right? ;)

Serve the bars family-style to end a special homemade meal for Mom, or pack the bars into decorative take out boxes (found at craft stores) to bring along for a picnic at the beach or the park.You could even stack them up on a tiered tea stand (how cute would patterned plates look?!).

Happy Mother's Day Weekend, and may all  mommies be spoiled with yummy treats! :)

Guava Coconut Crumble Bars (Adapted from Serious Eats; Makes 16 squares)

Print Recipe
8 oz (16 tbsps) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/2 cup White Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Fine Sea Salt
2 cups All Purpose Flour

21 oz Guava Paste (*Substitute: Guava Jam)

1 cup Old-Fashioned Oats
1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
4 oz (8 tbsp) Unsalted Butter, diced & chilled
2/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Almond Meal (*Recommended: Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 cup Finely Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 baking dish.
  2. To make the shortbread dough, combine the 8 oz. of butter and 1/2 cup of sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Next, with the mixer on *Stir, add the flour and salt. Scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the flour and butter is incorporated. Then, beat on low speed until the dough comes together. Press the shortbread dough into an even layer in the prepared baking dish. Chill in the refrigerator while preparing the filling and crumble.
  3. For the filling, cut the guava paste into 1/4-in thick slices. Set aside.
  4. To prepare the crumble, combine the oats, salt, sugar, and diced butter in a food processor. Pulse 10 times. Then, add the flour and almond meal. Pulse another dozen times, then add the coconut. Finally, pulse until the mixture is well-combined and resembles wet sand.
  5. Lay the slices of guava paste on top of the shortbread dough, placing them close together and completely covering the surface. Next, sprinkle on the crumble topping in an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until the top is crisp and golden-brown. 
  6. Cool completely, then cut into 16 squares.