These Papaya Bars are a silky smooth custard using fresh papaya fruit on a bed of short bread crust. Perfect for picnics or summer-y get togethers.
There’s this grocery store I only half like and it rhymes with Schrader Joe’s. The flowers, variety of cheeses and cheap bottles of booze, but man do they make me mad sometimes. Usually, I like to go shopping bright and early. On this particular day, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were carrying green papayas. I happily bought one, attempted to make this salad, only to discover when I cut into the dang “green papaya” that it was in fact a red papaya. So, there I was: “stuck” with this beautiful papaya that had no home, no future. I like to make the best of things and had remembered that I want to make lemon bars without the lemon part.
Generally, I have issues with lemon desserts. I’ve divulged this info before, I think. Every now and again, I do love them. Usually though, lemon bars are not my thing. They mostly leave me with a less than pleasing face. Pucker central, USA.
What are Papaya Bars?
Papaya bars are modeled after lemon bars. There is a base of shortbread crust that is salty and buttery. The crust is topped with a tropical custard made with papaya puree.
As I have been seeing lots of papaya in smoothies lately, I wanted to try to do this! I’m thinking a thick papaya, banana, coconut situation sounds uh-mazing. Or better yet, a papaya lassi with cardamom and a dash of nutmeg.
The color, flavor and texture is all a win. I pair this papaya with a few tablespoons of wildflower honey, which I picked up on the side of the road in Ojai a few weeks ago–it makes for a killer combo.
How to Make Papaya Bars
- Make the crust. This is the easiest part of the recipe. You pulse together flour, sugar, salt and butter until it resembles a course meal. Press the course crumbs into the baking dish.
- Bake the crust. Bake the packed course crumbs until the edges are set.
- Make the filling. Whisk together flour, salt and sugar. Then whisk in the papaya puree, eggs, lemon juice and honey. Pour the filling on top of the hot crust.
- Bake the bars until set. And then you take them out of the oven and let cool to room temperature.
- Dust the top with powdered sugar. Now, make it snow! Dust liberally with powdered sugar and enjoy.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup very cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- *3/4 cup red papaya puree, from a red papaya that weighed: 1.5 pounds
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons good-flavored honey, I used wildflower
- Powdered sugar, optional
Equipment: 9-inch baking dish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare this 9-inch baking dish by buttering it, placing a piece of parchment on the bottom of the dish and then flouring it. Set aside.
- To the jar of a food processor, add the flour, salt and dark brown sugar. Pulse until combined. Add the cubes of butter and then pulse once more until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with a few larger chunks throughout. Transfer the butter and flour mixture to the prepared baking dish and press firmly so the layer is even. Place in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes, and until the edges are set.
- Meanwhile, let's make the filling! To medium bowl, add the sugar, flour and salt, and mix. Whisk in the papaya puree, eggs, lemon juice and honey. The filling should appear glossy and smooth.
- Pour the filling over the hot crust and transfer back to the oven for a remaining 20-25 minutes. You'll know the papaya bars are done when the filling appears set. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack until it reaches room temperature.
- Run a sharp knife along the sides and gently lift the parchment
*To make papaya puree, peel and deseed the papaya. Cut the papaya into chunks and add to the jar of a food processor. Pulse until the papaya is completely smooth.
If you make these Papaya Bars, let me know on Instagram.
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