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Piña coladas never tasted so good! These tropical pineapple and coconut bars are the answer to your summer sweet tooth.
I am not a cocktail girl. Not one bit. I am most definitely a wine or beer girl, 100%. Although I do enjoy a traditional margarita with salt on the rim, I haven’t touched a sweet, fruity drink since my bachelorette party last year.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time celebrating with all of my girlfriends, but let’s just say I won’t be having any fruity or pink drinks for a long time.
Maybe ever again.
Thank you, Cinco De Mayo weekend + too many strawberry drinks + sombreros.
Despite my non-interest in fun cocktails, I do have a major interest in boozy desserts that taste like typical “umbrella drinks.”
My coworkers and I went to Dewey Beach this past weekend and although there was quite the selection of rum in many different infused flavors, I decided to bring MY rum in the form of this piña colada bar.
I mean, can you invite the dessert queen to a beach party weekend and expect her not to bring a boozy dessert? The answer is no you cannot.
Although there is no actual alcohol in these bars, you can most certainly add some to make these truly a cocktail dessert. See my notes at the bottom of the recipe for suggestions.
On the opposite hand, if you don’t like rum, simply omit the extract. You may just need to reduce the baking time by a few minutes.
I modeled these piña colada bars after my key lime pie bars because I knew the texture I was going for was a creamy, flavorful filling. I kept the graham cracker crust the same because it’s sturdy, crunchy, and buttery all at the same time.
As a sidenote, I loveeee making my own graham crackers, but for this recipe, I actually prefer store-bought.
My homemade ones are quite flavorful, and there are so many flavors going on in this filling, I wanted to keep the crust as an afterthought and not so bold like I did for the key lime bars.
Plus, any recipe that keeps my oven on the least amount of minutes possible in the summer is a win in my book! (Speaking of… Have you tried my no-bake reader favorite yet?)
For the filling, I upped the cream cheese because there is a lot of moisture going into these bars: smooth, creamy full fat coconut milk, and sweet and slightly tart crushed pineapple bring all the flavor.
Just like the key lime bars, these will need to cool to room temperature and then sit in the fridge or freezer before they’re ready to cut and serve.
It really is the hardest part. Prep only takes 15 minutes, and you can whip up the filling during the 10 minutes it takes to bake the graham cracker crust.
Let me tell you what– bringing this bar to the beach was a great decision on my part. For me, there is no such thing as too much coconut in my life, and these bars are jam-packed with it. It’s the perfect summery dessert.
The coconut sprinkled on top browns just a little bit, so the slight toasted coconut flavor in each bite meshes well with the sweetness and rumminess (?! it’s totally a word right now) of the bar.
My favorite part of the bar is the caramelized edges that come from the baking of the pineapple juice. It makes the bars just the right amount of sticky and chewy that belong in a dessert.
To make things even more fun, I topped my bars with a maraschino cherry, so it was essentially a chewy cocktail. Now that I’ve typed that, it sounds kind of gross, but I promise, these bars are a tropical dream.
If you like piña coladas, you must try this dessert.
And the best part? You can eat ALL of these bars and not have a hangover!
Ok, ok, please don’t do that… It’s not so great for your health! Besides, these are too good not to share with fellow piña colada loving friends!
Piña Colada Bars
- 1 and ½ cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs 10 or 11 full sheets
- 5 Tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter melted
- ¼ cup (50g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 6 ounces (171g) full fat block cream cheese softened to room temperature
- ⅔ cup (134g) granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1-14 ounce can coconut milk full fat; room temperature1
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract2
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-8 ounce can crushed pineapple drained3
- 1 cup (120g) sweetened shredded coconut divided
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
- Line an 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ baking pan with foil. Leave an overhang on the sides and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Use a food processor or blender to process full graham crackers into a fine crumb.
- Turn the processor or blender off, add the butter and sugar, then pulse a few times until everything is blended well. Alternatively, you can add the graham cracker crumbs to a bowl and mix the butter and sugar in with a large spatula. Mixture will be coarse and sandy.
- Use your hands to press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Once it is evenly spread into the dish, use your hands or the bottom of a flat measuring cup to make the crust tight and compact in the pan.
- Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium size bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar on high until smooth.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition, and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the coconut milk and vanilla extract and beat again until everything is combined.
- Fold in the crushed pineapple and ⅔ cup of the sweetened shredded coconut until evenly dispersed.
- Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust, sprinkle remaining shredded coconut on top, and bake for 70-75 minutes. Bars are done when the edges are set, the shredded coconut is lightly toasted, and the middle no longer jiggles. should just start to brown and middle should no longer be jiggly. Allow bars to cool to room temperatre in the pan on a wire rack. When bars are completely cool, chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- When bars are completely chilled, lift out of the pan using foil overhang and cut into squares. Bars can be stored covered in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Bars freeze well, up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
- Room temperature coconut milk: at room temperature, coconut milk can still be separated into fat and liquid. Take care opening your can, or, if it’s warm enough, you may be able to turn it into a complete liquid by shaking it before adding it to your other ingredients.
- Vanilla extract: if you want to add rum to this, I suggest replacing the vanilla extract with rum extract. You can also replace with coconut extract. If you want to use rum extract and coconut extract, you can use 1 teaspoon of each.
- Crushed pineapple: while the pineapple should be drained well, it does not have to be pressed or squeezed dry.