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Liliko’i bars for my sunny husband’s birthday

July 8, 2010

Passion fruit bars are like eating sun

My wonderful husband just had his fiftieth birthday. I love getting older with him. His loving touch, red beard and deep laugh are some of the things that make my life so rich. He is like living with the sun itself; brilliant, hot, radiant, red and immense.

My sunny husband and a little buddy

I wanted to bake him something special for his birthday, other than his favorite carrot cake, of course. Something that is just like him, packed with the energy of the sun and something that reflects my love for him.  Passion fruit bars fit the bill perfectly.

My first experience with passion fruit, (aka liliko’i in Hawaiian) was when we first moved to Hawaii. I was walking around this unbelievable tropical garden with the owner and we came across this curious vine with the most exotic, sensual flowers I have ever seen.  Stunned, I asked what it was and the gardener’s eyes lit up when she asked, “You’ve never seen a liliko’i before?” I shook my head, wide eyed and curious. She plucked off an egg shaped purple fruit, split it open with a knife and offered it to me. “Suck out the filling.” she encouraged.

I did. I have never been the same since. The flavor is as exotic as the blossoms. It is tart, yet sweet, and completely unforgettable. If you could taste the tropics, this would be the flavor. Once you have some passion fruit, you will always seek it out. It will evoke passion and light you up like the sun. It is easy to see how it got its name.

Since we do not have the tropical weather to grow this sexy fruit, the best way to work with it is to buy 100 % passion fruit puree. Now this is not always easy to find.  The best way to get the puree is by special ordering it from Mother Nature’s in Manzanita. It comes in a 2.2 pound frozen container. With the puree at your fingertips, you will have a passionate time finding ways to cook with it.

If you can find fresh passion fruit, good for you, you lucky dog! To make the puree, just scoop out the innards and scrape them through a wire stainer with a rubber spatula, and ta daa! Passion fruit puree.

The original recipe came from Bev Gannon’s cookbook, “The Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook.” I did change the shortbread crust to another one, since I wanted something with a bit lighter texture that melts in your mouth, like warm butter.

These liliko’i bars taste just like the sun would taste if you could bake it up in a bar. Their color also reflects the glorious sun, bright and luminous. If we can’t always have the sun here in the rainy NW, we can at least eat it.

It's like eating the sun!

Liliko’i bars

The crust

2 cups of flour

2/3 cups of powdered sugar

2/3 cups of butter

The filling

6 large farm eggs

2 cups of sugar

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour

1/1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

2/3 cup of liliko’i puree or passion fruit puree

Powdered sugar for dusting

Drag the sun down and pop it in your oven to heat to 350 degrees. To prepare the crust, whisk the flour and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture anyway you can till it is a nice crumbly texture. (I use my hands!) Pat the crust mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan, making sure to press the crust up the sides of the pan at least halfway. Pop it into the oven to bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges just barely start to brown.

While the crust is conferring with the sun, whisk the 6 eggs into a sunshiny froth. Then whisk in the sugar, one cup at a time. When that is looking well mixed, add the flour and baking powder by sprinkling it over the egg mixture while whisking exuberantly. (You can do this all with an electric mixture too.)  Then, at long last, add the taste of the sun, by pouring in the liliko’i puree and mixing well. Pour this luminous filling into the crust and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes till the top is golden brown and when you touch the center it is firm. Allow it to cool completely then set in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up. Cut into 1 inch squares or so, and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy eating the sun!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2010 5:07 pm

    These look fabulous and I can get passion fruit, so, I’ll be making these really soon. I hope your husband enjoyed his birthday. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  2. July 9, 2010 2:37 pm

    Happy 50th to your husband! I have never cooked or baked with lilikoi before and growing up in the Philippines and falling in love with Hawaii, I’ve always been intrigued. I’d have to try out your recipe!! Lovely blog you have.


  3. July 11, 2010 4:56 am


    Bamboo Sushi, here in PDX, has this cocktail called a Paprika Cup: vodka, whiskey, Pimm’s, passion fruit puree, muddled ginger, topped with ginger ale and a paprika sugared half rim with cucumber garnish.

    SO GOOD.

  4. July 18, 2010 11:15 am

    mmmmmm these look so good, passionfruit it so so tasty!!

  5. August 1, 2010 11:51 pm

    These look awesome! My boyfriend is a big passion fruit fan so I might have to make these sometime. Luckily I live in a largely Caribbean neighborhood and literally every bodega has frozen passion fruit pulp so it’ll be easy to get ahold of. I hate using fresh passion fruit for its pulp, the seeds are so amazing it’s always a shame to discard them.

  6. August 14, 2010 10:18 pm

    thank you for the visit and comment
    these look delicious and must have tasted good too with passionfruit

  7. August 18, 2010 1:01 am

    Beautiful photos of beautiful bars!

  8. November 15, 2010 9:44 pm

    Made these bars and really loved it…. posted it in my blog …. please check when you get time…Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  9. January 3, 2011 10:34 pm

    The colors on those bars looks so pretty, sort of like sunsine.

  10. February 3, 2011 3:59 pm

    Thanks for stopping by BraveTart! Your passion fruit bars look amazing. I’ve had fresh passion fruit, but never off the vine in a lush tropical garden. Jealous!

  11. Pinay@Phnom Penh permalink
    February 16, 2011 4:14 am

    Those Liliko’i bars are great! Lucky me as passion fruit is right now plentiful in the local market here in Cambodia. And so cheap too! $1.20 a kilo. I checked the web as to what I could do with it. I’ve been buying heaps and eating it fresh. It’s been helping me sleep better. Thanks for the recipe. WIll try it tonite.

    • ziabaki permalink*
      February 26, 2011 12:50 am

      These bars are crazy good! I hope you enjoyed them!

  12. calsound permalink
    March 15, 2011 11:08 pm

    I’m going to make these this weekend for a chef friend of mine. I have a bunch of fresh passion fruit to use up. Excited! Question: Do you think I could leave in the seeds for “looks” or maybe put just a few in? I figured it’d look more like passion fruit if it had the seeds in.

    • ziabaki permalink*
      March 15, 2011 11:50 pm

      Oh yes, If you have fresh passion fruit leave a few seeds in for drama! They are going to be beautiful! Enjoy!

      • calsound permalink
        March 23, 2011 8:12 pm

        I did end up making them. They were tasty! I loved the shortbread crust. My only complaint is the passion fruit flavor didn’t shine through as much as I hoped- and it wasn’t tart like I thought it would be. I wonder if the puree is stronger than fresh passion fruits. I think I will try this recipe again but do 1/2 lemon 1/2 fresh passion fruit. It was still very tasty, gone quickly! Thanks!

  13. Mary Rose permalink
    March 26, 2011 6:12 pm

    I love your recipe with its references to the power and glory of the sun…we should all take the time that you do to relish our natural world. Lilikoi is my all time fav -flavor:-) I will be making some bars really soon since I brought some juice back from the Islands with me.

  14. g. Wilson permalink
    July 17, 2012 5:33 am

    I love Liliko’i fruit this has always been a favorite of mine. If you like lemon bars you will love Liliko’i bars they are ONO!

  15. Elaine permalink
    September 6, 2013 9:35 am

    I live in Maui, and have tons of Lilikoi, so found this receipe to use my fruit. These bars are easy and yummy but I think next batch I will put more Lilikoi puree/Juice in the recipe. I think it needs more tart “punch” so more Lilikoi and less sugar should do it. These bars cut up cleanly…good for a party….nice…

    • ziabaki permalink*
      September 6, 2013 4:47 pm

      Lucky you!! I live in Maui for 6 years in the 90s and both my daughters live there now. I do miss the fresh lilokoi puree, so much more flavor! I adapted these bars off a recipe from the Hailee maile general store, which I’m sure you are familiar with. Let me know how they turn out with more puree. Thanks for letting me know how you like them!

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