The Bee’s Knees Marbled PB Buckeyes

Bees & honey = a perfect pair. Peanut & chocolate = a match made in heaven. Put them together and what do you get? Chocolate peanut butter candy bliss.

Bee's Knees PB Buckeyes - Inside NanaBread's Head

Have you tried Peanut Butter & Co peanut butter yet? It’s The Bee’s Knees – quite literally. Their honey-infused peanut butter is a dream come true for peanut butter lovers like me who’ve been stirring honey into peanut butter since birth, or shortly thereafter. As a child, peanut butter was my go-to snack. Mom could get me to do just about anything for a jar of peanut butter. Hand me a jar and a spoon, and I would fold laundry or mop floors like it was my job. Flash forward to adult me, and I’m still stirring honey into peanut butter for a quick snack. That is until Peanut Butter & Co did it for me with The Bee’s Knees. As a member of the PB&CO Yum Squad, I accepted their challenge to play with my food and create a recipe to show off their Bee’s Knees peanut butter. They sent me two jars to play with (yum and thank you) and here’s what I did.

NanaBread’s Marbled Chocolate & Peanut Butter Buckeyes:
1 cup Bee’s Knees honey peanut butter
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted & divided (see below)
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond meal
1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
2 cups (12 ozs) chocolate chips (I used semisweet)
3 tablespoons paraffin (Gulf Wax), grated (optional)
salted, roasted peanuts for garnish

In a stand mixer, combine peanut butter, softened butter, vanilla, salt, 2 cups of the powdered sugar (setting aside 1/2 cup for later) and the almond meal. Blend on low speed until combined, then turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes until smooth. The dough should be the texture of soft play dough. Turn the mixture out onto a cutting board or sheet of parchment and divide it in half.

Gently knead the additional 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into half of the candy mixture until combined and smooth. For the other half, gently knead in the 1/2 cup of cocoa powder. Roll the chocolate dough into a square roughly 1/4″ thick. Roll the peanut butter dough into the same size square, then lay it on top of the chocolate square to form two layers of dough. Cut the square in half, forming two rectangles and stack them on top of each other, creating a rectangle four layers deep. Cut the rectangle into 1″ squares. Roll each piece into a ball and set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet. Rolling the dough into balls with your hands will create a pretty marbled effect. Once all the dough is rolled into balls, pop the baking sheet into the freezer so the buckeyes can firm up.

While the candy is chilling, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler. If you don’t have one, simply place a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan with 3-4″ boiling water over medium heat. Once it starts to melt, whisk the chocolate until smooth. Add the grated paraffin (which helps set the chocolate so it doesn’t melt as easily when you pick it up) and whisk again until smooth. Dip frozen buckeyes into the melted chocolate, covering completely, and set them back onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Once dipped, place them in the refrigerator to firm up. Scrape the remaining melted chocolate into a plastic zip-style food bag and twist it to work the chocolate into one corner of the bag.

To garnish, snip the tip off the corner of the bag and pipe a spiral of melted chocolate on top of each buckeye. Top with a salted roasted peanut, and pop the sheet back into the fridge to set. Finished buckeyes should be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, and should keep for up to one month.

Bee's Knees PB BonBons - CloseUp of Cut Candy

Besides being fabulously sweet & slightly salty, these peanut butter buckeyes are fun to make. I always tell people I love to play with my food, so I think my favorite part of this recipe was playing with the dough to make these candy bees (8 in all). As I said, the candy mixture is the texture of play dough, and I couldn’t resist. I also couldn’t stop giggling over them and the personality they had.

Bee's Knees PB BonBons - Bee CloseUp

I’m still playing with my Bee’s Knees peanut butter. My attempt at chocolate chip pancakes wasn’t a complete failure, but wasn’t what I’d hoped for. What did work was the peanut butter & honey topping. To make, combine 2 tablespoons of Bee’s Knees peanut butter with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and microwave for 30-45 seconds until it is melted. Add 4 tablespoons of your favorite honey and whisk until smooth. Pour over your favorite pancake recipe and voilà! It’s a great way to enjoy that fabulous peanut butter & honey combo and add a little protein to your breakfast routine. It’s so good! If you don’t believe me, ask these guys.

Oops… looks like that little guy might not have gotten any. {burp!}

Bee's Knees Bees & Pancakes Collage - Inside NanaBread's Head

NOTE: As a member of Peanut Butter & Company’s Yum Squad, I am occasionally sent jars of peanut butter and/or peanut butter products to play with. No further compensation is received, and all opinions are my own.

PB&Co Bee's Knees Peanut Butter

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Sweet Potato Buns (two ways!)

Sweet mother of billowy buns – these have my head spinning! Made with a freshly baked sweet potato & a touch of honey, these orange-tinted beauties will leave you craving more. Even better? They’re easy to make.

Flaky Buttery Sweet Potato Rolls

It’s rare that I decide to make homemade sandwich buns, but when I saw this recipe I knew I would give it a shot. That one lonely sweet potato in my pantry was just begging for it. The fact that they’re naturally sweetened with honey sealed the deal. What do I love most about these? Everything.

Baked Sweet Potato Buns - CloseUp

Soft on the inside. Flaky on the outside. Slightly sweet. Gloriously eggy. And as dough goes, versatile. First up was sandwich buns. Cutting this gorgeous dough into strips, I tied them into knots and smeared them with softened butter.

Buttered Sweet Potato Buns - CloseUp

Baked to golden perfection, they were perfect for grilled chicken sandwiches.
To make, we marinated boneless breasts in lime juice, garlic and olive oil then cooked them on the grill. Layered with lettuce, tomato, purple onion, a little mayonnaise and a slice of provolone, it’s one of our favorite sandwiches.

Sweet Potato Buns in Action - Grilled Chicken Sandwich

That’s not all this dough can do. It also makes perfect cinnamon rolls. Using half the dough for sandwich buns, I reserved the other half for these breakfast beauties – Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with orange cream cheese frosting.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls - Glazed

If you thought this dough made a great looking sandwich bun, wait until you take a bite of these cinnamon buns. Without a doubt, these are the best buns I’ve ever made. Here’s how you can make them for your family.

NanaBread’s Sweet Potato Bread Dough:
1 medium sweet potato (roughly 14 ozs.)
1/2 cup warm water (115F)
6 tablespoons honey
2 envelopes (or 1/2 oz.) active rapid-rise yeast
1 cup mashed sweet potato (from the sweet potato above)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
2 whole large or jumbo eggs, plus one additional egg yolk
3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour, sifted
1/2 softened butter, to finish (instructions below)
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon cinnamon (for cinnamon rolls)

Cinnamon Roll Frosting (optional):
1 package of cream cheese (8 ozs.), softened to room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2-3 drops Fiori de Sicilia orange essence (optional) OR 1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

To make the bread dough: wash the sweet potato and prick the skin all around with a fork to create steam holes. Wet two paper towels and wring them out, then wrap the sweet potato in the damp towels. Microwave on high until the sweet potato is soft inside (roughly 3-5 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave). When done, set it aside to cool.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the warm water and honey. Give it a quick stir with a spatula and add the rapid-rise yeast. Give it another quick stir, then walk away for at least 10-15 minutes so the yeast can bloom.

Remove the skin from the cooked sweet potato and mash it with a fork until mostly smooth (a few small lumps are okay). Sift the bread flour and set it aside. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolk with a fork until well blended.

When the yeast is ready, add the sweet potato puree, melted butter, salt and eggs and mix on low just until blended. Start adding the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough becomes sticky and clings to the dough hook (may take 3-5 mins.).

Note: this makes a soft, sticky dough. Humidity plays a part in how much flour you may need to achieve the proper texture. I’m in Houston, where the humidity was 75%, so I used all 4 cups of flour. You may use less, depending on your climate. Start by adding 3 cups of flour (one cup at a time) and slowly add more until you get a soft, sticky dough that clings to that dough hook.

Once the dough clings, stop the mixer and scrape the dough off the dough hook. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly just until it forms a smooth ball. Place the dough ball in a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and a clean towel, and place the bowl in a sunny window to rise until doubled in bulk. Once doubled, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll or press into a rectangle roughly 8″ x 20″.

To make sandwich buns: cut the dough into 1″ x 8″ strips (I use a rolling pizza cutter). Tie each strip into a knot, tucking the cut end underneath, and place them on a parchment or silpat mat lined baking sheet. Gently run the top of each bun with softened butter. Cover with plastic wrap and a lightweight towel and allow to rise again for at least 30 minutes, or up to one hour.

To make cinnamon rolls: combine 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon. Liberally coat your rectangle of dough with softened butter, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Roll the dough, working along the long side of the rectangle, then pinch the seam to seal it. Roll it over until the seam is facing down on the floured board, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Using a sharp blade (I use my bench scraper), cut the dough into pieces 1 1/2″ wide and place them cut-side up on a lined baking sheet, at least 2″ apart. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and allow them to rise one last time, for 30 minutes.

To bake: Pre-heat your oven to 375F. Once hot, bake your rolls one sheet at a time on the center rack of the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven, or until golden brown. A good way to test sandwich buns is to gently press the center of one bun with your finger. If it feels soft and depresses easily, leave them in a little longer. If they feel firm, they’re done. Remove from the oven, place the pan on a cooling rack, and allow the buns to cool completely.

To make the cinnamon roll frosting: soften the cream cheese and butter to room temperature. Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and orange essence or concentrate in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Gradually add sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until the mixture holds its shape when you drag your whisk through it. Scrape the frosting into a quart ziploc bag. Press the air out and seal the bag, then twist it to work the frosting into one corner of the bag. Snip the corner off with a pair of scissors, and frost the cinnamon rolls. I used a criss-cross pattern, but you could also start in the center and pipe a spiral or make the frosting thinner and use it as a glaze.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls - CloseUp

This recipe made 16 buns – 7 sandwich and 9 cinnamon rolls.

Baked buns can be frozen for future use. For the sandwich buns, place them in a freezer bag and press out as much air as possible, then place into a second freezer bag. For cinnamon rolls, leave glazed rolls on a baking sheet and place the pan into the freezer. Freeze cinnamon rolls for 2-3 hours, or until the frosting and buns are firm. Remove frozen rolls from the baking sheet and double bag them in freezer bags, just as you would the sandwich buns. Double-bagged buns should last up to 2 months in the freezer, if they last that long.

This recipe is adapted from a sweet potato roll recipe posted on the Tasty Kitchen website by Deana at Country Mom Cooks. I doubled the amount of sweet potato puree and yeast, and added more honey, melted butter and an additional egg yolk for a richer dough. Click the underlined link to the original.

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The Complete Package: MotoGP Austin

Track Shot - Friday Practice - MotoGP Austin

Confession: I don’t know jack about motorcycle racing.
But I know someone who does, and that someone is my beloved husband, The Complete Package. Earlier this month, TCP and I went to Austin so he could attend the MotorGP event. While he was at the racetrack, I played with the grandkids. And thus we reveal the key to a 32-year marriage – compromise.

Because TCP had a great time, I thought it would be fun to share a few photos from the races on the off chance some of you enjoy it as well. The following photos were taken by The Complete Package at the MotoGP Austin event:

Track Shot - Lap Board & Stands - MotoGP Austin

Track Shot - The Tower - MotoGP Austin

Austin 360 Concert Stage - MotoGP Austin

Corn Hole Corner - MotoGP Austin

Traffic Jam - MotoGP Austin

Qualifying Rounds2 - MotoGP Austin

Coming Out of the Corner - MotoGP Austin

Here’s what I do know:
1. The Complete Package is a Valentino Rossi fan.
2. Our grandkids love everything TCP loves because they love him.
3. Lilly Bug is now in love with Valentine Rossi (all the ladies are).
4. Jonah Bear thinks Marc Marquez rocks because he’s the fastest in the world.
5. This next shot is of their favorites – Rossi (blue/green) & Marquez (black/orange/white).

The Kid's Favorites - Rossi & Marquez - MotoGP Austin

Valentino Rossi makes the fans go wild. People are crazy for this Italian racer, and I get it. He’s a maniac on a racing bike, has enough personality and charm for 10 racers, and is a world champion many times over.

Rossi - Going Going Gone - MotoGP Austin

Rossi - Signature Move - MotoGP Austin

But then there’s the up-and-comer, Marc Marquez. This Spanish biker is young, aggressive, and taking the racing world by storm. He is also the current World Champion and the winner of the Austin MotoGP event. How fast is he? Well, his top speed at the Austin event was clocked at 341.6 km/h. That’s 212.3 miles per hour. {gulp!} I. Cannot. Fathom. I wonder what his mother thinks about it.

Mark Marquez - Victory Lap

Mark Marquez - Victory Lap2

Three days of fun & sun at the Circuit of the Americas track was just enough for TCP. He had a blast, saw all the qualifying rounds and races including the big finale, and has the sunburn to prove it. Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug both got racing shirts (hers is a Rossi; his is a Marquez), got to hit the new Luby’s near the house, and spent some time in the hotel hot tub and at the park with their mother & I. We also hit Sandy’s Frozen Custard, so basically a great time was had by all.

Jonah & Lilly on the Swings

Okay, I lied. I took that last shot of Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug. But just that one.
#TruthInAdvertising #GratuitousGrandkidShot #HashtagAttack #NotSorry

Note: The Complete Package wanted me to point out that some of these photos were taken early on Friday during qualifying rounds, which is why the stands might look empty or sparse. For Saturday’s events and Sunday’s final races the racetrack was packed with spectators, as those in attendance can attest.

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Sausage, Egg & Asparagus Tart

Spring Sausage Egg & Asparagus Tart - Inside NanaBread's Head

You know Spring has sprung when fresh asparagus pops up in abundance. I grabbed a handful this week and made this easy tart for lunch. If you like quiche, you’ll love this. It starts with these beauties. I love this vibrant green color.

Spring Sausage Egg & Asparagus Tart - Raw Asparagus

Alton Brown (Food Network) says the best way to cook asparagus and preserve its flavor and bright green color is to microwave it. Start by cutting off the tough stem ends, then grab a strip of 4 paper towels (still connected). Wet them and squeeze out most of the water. Un-wad the paper towels until you have a strip two towels long and two towels thick. Spread the asparagus on the damp towels in a single layer and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roll the asparagus up in the paper towels and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Done!

Spring Sausage Egg & Asparagus Tart - Chicken Sausage

Next up are these gorgeous organic chicken, asparagus and parmesan smoked sausages from my local HEB market. I simply seared them in a hot skillet until lightly browned on both sides, then sliced them in half lengthwise.

Spring Sausage Egg & Asparagus Tart - Scrambled Eggs

Soft scrambled eggs are cooked in the same skillet until almost but not quite set. These are just getting started. A box of frozen puff pastry makes quick work of the tart shell. To save time, thaw the puff pastry while you’re steaming the asparagus and browning the sausages. I promise – this tart could not be easier and topped with shredded parmesan cheese, it could not be more delicious.

Spring Sausage Egg & Asparagus Tart - Cut

NanaBread’s Sausage Egg & Asparagus Tart:
1 box frozen puff pastry (17.3 ounces or two ready-to-bake sheets), thawed
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 package smoked chicken sausage (I used an asparagus & parmesan version)
1 pound fresh asparagus, microwaved (instructions above)
2 slices Lacey Swiss cheese, from your grocer’s deli counter
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons heavy cream or half-n-half
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 425F; remove the puff pastry from the box and let it thaw.

In a hot skillet, place the chicken sausages (sliced or whole) and brown on both sides over high heat, then remove from the skillet. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, cream or half-n-half, melted butter, salt & pepper. Whisk until fluffy. To the hot skillet, add 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl the pan until it is melted. Pour in the eggs, and using a silicone spatula, gently push the eggs around the skillet until they are almost set, but still wet and glossy. (Don’t worry, they’ll finish cooking in the oven.)

On a lined baking sheet, lay out one full sheet of puff pastry. Cut the remaining sheet into 3/4″ strips, and lay them around the outside edge of the bottom sheet to create a frame. Brush the edges with melted butter, then layer on your ingredients starting with the Swiss cheese, then the cut up sausages, the scrambled eggs, then the steamed asparagus. Bake at 425F for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven), or until the puff pastry is a light golden brown.

Spring Sausage Egg & Asparagus Tart - Construction Collage

Allow the tart to cool for a few minutes before slicing. To serve, top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. This tart makes four large servings (main course) or nine small servings (appetizer). It’s perfect for any time of day. We had it for lunch, but it would also be lovely for brunch with fruit or dinner with a side salad. No one needs to know how simple it was, except for us. And I’ll never tell.

Spring Sausage Egg & Asparagus Tart - Sliced

Notes from the Kitchen:
1. This can be made meat-free by omitting the sausages.
2. It would also be lovely with a rotisserie chicken instead of sausage.
3. To reduce the amount of butter, try spraying the skillet with Pam instead.
4. To further reduce fat, swap 2 Tbsp. fat-free Greek yogurt for the cream.
5. The sausages & asparagus can be cooked in advance to save time.
6. To tart up your tart, try adding a small pinch of nutmeg or cayenne pepper to your scrambled eggs.
7. Leftovers should be refrigerated and eaten within 2-3 days.

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Getting Crafty with Pin Cushions

There’s a bee in my bonnet – Lori Holt’s Bee In My Bonnet blog. It’s spectacular. I often drool over her beautiful website with its plethora of quilts, her line of custom-designed fabrics and patterns, and adorable craft tutorials.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Finished Lawn Chair Pin Cushion

This lawn chair pin cushion tutorial is one of my favorites. It starts with a metal lawn chair candle holder sourced from the dollar store. Mine is a vibrant shade of teal. From there, you just need a few basic items from the craft store.

Not pictured - loose quilt batting (a.k.a. fluffy stuff).

Not pictured – loose quilt batting (a.k.a. the fluffy stuff).

I love this bright argyle print. It’s perfect for my tiny teal chair. To start, I measured the width and length of the chair. Stitching around three sides, I then turned it right-side-out and stuffed the ‘seat’ with batting. A quick stitch across the width of the cushion helped divide the seat from the back. The seat gets twice as much batting so the pins have something in which to rest. The back of the cushion gets a light stuffing and then the top is stitched shut.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Lawn Chair Pin Cushion - Overview

To keep the cushion in place, I opted to stitch a color-coordinated ribbon to the back of the cushion and tie it to the chair. It can be hot-glued into place, but I opted for a ribbon so I can use it as a candle holder or blog prop at any time.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Lawn Chair Pin Cushion Collage

The last small detail, and I do mean small, is the button tufting on the cushion. Using tiny white buttons from the craft department at Hobby Lobby, I used embroidery thread to attach them at intersecting lines on the argyle print. Pulling the buttons tightly and stitching them down at the back creates that cute tufted cushion detail. And you don’t have to worry about the stitching showing on the back because the metal covers it. Perfect!

Pin Cushion Crafts - Button Detail Close-Up

Okay, before I let you go I have to show you one more cute pin cushion idea I saw on Lori’s Instagram feed. She made a tiny travel-size pin cushion out of plastic Easter eggs. For real! They could not be cuter, so of course I had to try it. Tis the season, after all. Here’s how mine turned out.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Easter Egg Pin Cushion Collage

Those glittery Easter eggs are from WalMart. I love the colors and texture. The fabrics are remnants from my fabric basket. This one it just too easy. To make, cut a 4″ circle of a color-coordinated fabric for each egg. Stuff it with quilt batting and pin or tie it into a ball. Use a glue gun or quick-drying craft glue to glue it into the bottom of the egg and allow it to dry completely. Once dry, add pins and presto! A tiny portable pin cushion you can pop in your pocket.

Pin Cushion Crafts - Easter Egg Travel Sewing Kit

I went a step further and added a few safety pins and two needles pre-threaded with tan and black thread to convert it to a portable sewing kit. I can toss this little gem into my cosmetic bag for travel and never have to worry about losing a button again. Even better, these would make perfect gifts for a Ladies Only weekend. Thanks for the inspiration and tutorials, Lori!

Pin Cushion Crafts - Easter Egg Pin Cushions - Dozen

If you love to get crafty or just appreciate true creative genius, visit Lori Holt’s Bee In My Bonnet blog. The links to these tutorials are imbedded above, or can be found by clicking here:

Lawn Chair Pin Cushion Tutorial at Bee In My Bonnet Co.
Apron Water Bottle Cover – Bee In My Bonnet Blog
Easter Egg Pin Cushion – photo on Lori Holt’s Instagram feed

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So Simple: Lemon Sour Cream Pie

Lemon Sour Cream Pie - Inside NanaBread's Head

Looking at my last three posts, I’d say there’s a high probability I’m on a fruit bender. Peach waffles. Papaya Cheesecake Bars. And now this. I think I’m trying to channel Spring. I first tasted this pie in the mid-80’s when our neighbor in Owasso, Oklahoma made it for us. It’s super simple, yet loaded with lemon flavor. A little sweet, a little tart, and a little tangy… just like me.

Lemon Sour Cream Pie:

one 8″ pre-baked pie shell (I use this recipe.)
4 small lemons, zested & juiced (1 Tbsp. zest + 1/2 cup juice)
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup sour cream
whipped cream, to garnish

Pre-bake your pie crust (homemade or store-bought) and let it cool completely.

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, cornstarch, sugar, egg yolks and milk. Cook over medium-low heat until thick, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Allow the custard to cool completely. Once cooled, whisk in the sour cream.

Pour into your pre-baked pie crust and refrigerate at least two hours. To serve, slice and top with whipped cream. Serves 8. Keep refrigerated.

If you like simple, you’ll love this pie. If you insist on getting fancy, spread a thin layer of your favorite raspberry jam on top before you slather on that whipped cream. Oh, baby! Cover me. I’m going in.

Lemon Sour Cream Pie - My Slice - Inside NanaBread's Head

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Papaya Cheesecake Bars

Papaya Cheesecake Bars - Cut Bars & Pan

The Polar Vortex killed our papaya tree. Poor little guy. We just planted him last summer, so we barely knew him. To make matters worse, we’re having trouble finding another papaya tree to replace him. Not that we’re interviewing or anything, but the nursery doesn’t have any. Which is a round-about way to say The Complete Package bought a fresh papaya last weekend that was bigger than my head so he could germinate the seeds in an attempt to grow papaya trees. That’s great, but it left us with a gallon of diced papaya. Thatza lotta papaya.

What does one do with a gallon of fresh papaya? Not much, apparently. I searched the internet for ideas, but recipe choices were mainly limited to smoothies. After two or three of those, I was done. Then I saw a recipe for papaya jam, and that really got me thinking. Surely I could so something with papaya jam, right? Enter Papaya Cheesecake Bars.

Papaya Cheesecake Bars - In the Pan

Sometimes I come up with an idea that actually works. Surprising, I know.

NanaBread’s Papaya Cheesecake Bars:
(makes two 8″ x 8″ square pans or one 13″ x 9″ rectangle)

For the papaya jam:
4 cups fresh papaya – peeled, seeded & diced
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar (optional, or add to taste)
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the fresh papaya, marmalade and orange juice. Simmer over medium-low heat until the papaya is soft and the mixture begins to thicken a little. Taste to determine if sugar needs to be added. If so, add up to 1/4 cup of sugar (to your taste) and cook until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and continue to stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Place a strainer over a mixing bowl, and pour the papaya mixture into the strainer. Using a flexible silicone spatula, press the papaya mixture through, straining out any fruit fiber or lumps. Allow the strained mixture to cool completely. While it’s cooling, you can start your shortbread crust.

For the shortbread crust:
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill coconut meal
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond meal
6 tablespoons brown sugar
a pinch of salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold & cubed

Pre-heat your oven to 375F. In a food processor, combine all of the shortbread ingredients. Pulse until well combined and the texture of course sand. Line your baking pan(s) with parchment and add the shortbread mixture (it will be crumbly). Shake the pan to distribute the crumbs, then tap it flat on the counter a few times to help settle them in an even layer. Cover with a sheet of parchment and use a rolling-pin or heavy glass to roll the crumbs into a solid, compact layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. While the crust is baking, mix up your cheesecake filling.

For the cheesecake layer:
1 package (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

In a mixing bowl, combine the cheesecake ingredients. Whisk until the mixture is completely smooth. Pour over the baked shortbread crust, tapping the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Pop it back into the oven for 10-12 minutes, or just until you can shake the pan gently and the cheesecake doesn’t jiggle. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely. Once cooled, top with papaya jam, spreading it into a smooth even layer. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Keep refrigerated.

Papaya Cheesecake Bars - Cut

Truth in Marketing Moment: I dusted mine with powdered sugar, but it really served no purpose other than adding texture to the photographs. The sugar dissolved almost immediately into the papaya jam and vanished. Feel free to skip that step unless you’re also photographing your papaya bars, in which case it’ll look pretty and everybody loves pretty desserts.

That papaya jam? It’s supremely tasty, so I’ll be canning more of that.

Remember when people used to ask “If you were a crayon, what color would you be?” I’m changing my answer. It used to be Cornflower Blue, but now it’s Papaya Orange. That color just screams SASSY.

Papaya Cheesecake Bars - Horizontal

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