Last week I rode a roller coaster of recipe happiness and sadness, ending up with a happy compromise.
The subject was guava bars, a request from Myra Hargrove.
“My request is for the original recipe for the delicious guava bars made by Guava Smoked. If not, a similar recipe to share with everyone?”
Scott Shibuya, owner of Guava Smoked, a takeout spot in Kalihi that smokes meats over strawberry guava wood, said his guava bar recipe was something he’d found online. He sent a link. Happy! That sounded easy.
So I tried it and got very pretty, tasty bars. Still happy.
Then I went to visit Shibuya and realized that his bars didn’t look or taste anything like mine. He smiled and said, well, his crew did tweak the recipe quite a bit. Sad.
But then he said I could see his recipe. Happy again.
“But you can’t tell anybody.” Sad again.
Skipping over further back-and-forth, this is where we are: I have the Guava Smoked recipe, but I can’t even whisper it into your ear. What I did do is come up with a recipe inspired by Guava Smoked’s, at least as far as the crust goes. Shibuya’s version is more about the crust, a crumbly mix of shortbread and walnuts, than it is about the fruit, anyway. This recipe approximates that crust, but without Guava Smoke’s secret tweaks.
For the fruit layer, I went with a simple combo of frozen juice concentrate and sweetened condensed milk that I’ve seen in other recipes for fruit bars. No eggs, no additional sugar, but it bakes up pretty in pink and with a clean guava taste.
If you’ve had the Guava Smoked bar, this isn’t going to fool you. For one thing, it’s got a much thicker fruit layer. But the crust should remind you of the real thing.
EASY GUAVA BARS
By Betty Shimabukuro
1 (12-ounce) can frozen guava juice concentrate, thawed
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound (1 cup or two sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment.
>> To make crust: Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in flour and salt until well Incorporated (mixture will be dry). Add nuts (1/2 cup will make a firm crust; the more nuts, the more crumbly it will be).
Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, until crust is just starting to brown around edges.
Let crust cool slightly while preparing fruit layer: Whisk juice concentrate with condensed milk until thoroughly combined. Sift cornstarch and baking powder into mixture; whisk until incorporated. Pour over baked shell crust. Smooth top and tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake 30 minutes.
Let cool. Lift edge of parchment and slide contents onto cutting board. Cut into bars. Sift powdered sugar over top just before serving, if desired. Makes about 20 bars.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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