I think someone once told me that using ripe seasonal fruit in baked goods is almost a sin, that the fruit itself is the best vehicle for transporting flavor to your mouth, but I couldn’t quite hear him over the sound of my own chewing, so I may have missed the finer points.
This recipe is of course a variation of the classic lemon bar: a buttery shortbread crust topped with a tangy citrus custard. Ever since I moved to Hawaii, I’ve been trying to shove all manner of tropical fruit both into my mouth and this lemon bar recipe, and the ones that fit best are mango and lilikoi (passionfruit). I first made this a few years ago when a friend gifted me two overripe mangos she’d found on the grounds of the museum where we both work. Though I don’t know how to express this sentiment without it sounding like a humblebrag (are we still saying that? it makes me queasy), these were the best mangos I’ve ever eaten: so ripe and sweet with juices that ran down my chin, mango that tasted like the first mango or maybe the last. So of course I wanted to bake with them.
These mango bars won’t disappoint. They manage to capture the complexity of the fruit while pairing it with a butyraceous (I just learned this word, and it means “of the nature of, resembling, or containing butter.” Ob. Sessed.) shortbread that leaves me wanting to slam the whole pan. That is not a euphemism. These mango bars are that good.
My favorite part of the finished bar is the unique division of layers—there is crust, yes, and filling too, but the middle becomes some sort of mango-custard-shortbread-fusion that I could eat at every meal for the rest of my life. Dare me, I dare you. I suspect that because I bake these in an 8” by 11” pan instead of a traditional 9” by 13” that the crust becomes plumper, but you could use a bigger pan if you desire a thinner bar.
Depending on the ripeness of your own mangos, you may adjust the sugar in the filling up or down in this recipe. I always err on the side of less sugar because I think it’s the least exciting ingredient at any party, but if your mangos are still firm and a little piney, do what you must. I have been that impatient baker too.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1¼ cups sugar (adjust up or down based upon ripeness of fruit)
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large mangos
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- Place a rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 350F. Grease an 8” by 11” pan or casserole dish and line with parchment.
- Make the mango puree—Remove the skin from the mango with a sharp knife. Cube the flesh, discarding the stone in the middle. Place flesh in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until liquefied.
- Make the crust—In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar until fully incorporated and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl before adding flour and salt. Beat until just combined—do not overmix.
- Turn out dough into prepared dish and use your hands to spread evenly into the corners and sides. Parbake for 15-20 minutes until edges are just set and slightly browned.
- Make the filling—While the crust bakes, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined and glossy. Add mango puree, flour, lemon juice, and zest and whisk until combined.
- Pour filling over hot crust and return to oven. Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until filling is set but still slightly jiggly in the center.
- Cool completely before serving. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Store for up to a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.