Mango Strawberry Macadamia Nut Shortbread Bars and the 4th of July in Hawaii

by Irvin on July 29, 2011 · 15 comments

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AJ and I took the month of July off, packed our bags and went to paradise (ie. Maui). I called it “my sabbatical” as I had grandiose plans to do many things that I can’t seem to do when I am at home, in my apartment, with the numerous distractions that come with being at home. In theory it seemed like a good idea, but in reality, I haven’t really had a chance to do all the things I wanted to do, as I’ve been too busy going to the beach and going to the beach. Oh and going to the beach. But I also have been utterly inspired by all the tropical fruit here in Maui, and, when I’m not at the beach, I find myself dreaming and scheming about what to make with the fruit that I normally don’t pick up in San Francisco. One of the first things I made here in Hawaii was a Mango Strawberry Macadamia Nut Shortbread Bars.

Mango Strawberry Macadamia Nut Shortbread Bars Mango Strawberry Macadamia Nut Shortbread Bars

We arrived July 1st, a month full of promise and sun. We knew three people on the island, but we were sure we would make friends. AJ and I are fairly gregarious that way. We had not done a lot of planning, figuring we had a month here to figure it all out, and we had been to Maui once before, for a friend’s wedding. Through circumstances, we ended up renting a *cough* well loved, slightly older car with only a 150,000 miles on it, that was half the price of renting a new car from a big name car rental agency. We knew we would blend in with the locals with our beat up Toyota with the ubiquitous turtle sticker and Bob Marley decal on the back window (AJ hates reggae but don’t tell anyone that).

Our awesome totally useable rental car that allowed us to blend with the locals. Our awesome totally well loved rental car that allowed us to blend with the locals.

The condo we rented was no frills but clean and really conveniently located. The kitchen was rather sparse in truth. Though coming from my San Francisco kitchen, where I had everything I wanted, I knew any vacation condo kitchen was going to be a challenge. I tweeted, asking people what I should bring to a tropical island, and received some great advice, though a few impractical ones (I knew as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t bring my KitchenAid mixer or food processor). In the end, I brought a large rubber spatula, a paring knife, a chef knife, a microplane zester and a digital thermometer.

I can bake anywhere. I am the MacGyver of kitchens. I can bake anywhere. I am the MacGyver of kitchens.

Our second day here, our friend Brian (1 of the 3 aforementioned friends) had invited us up to the West Maui, where his Taiko drumming group was performing for an O-Bon festival, a traditional Japanese ceremony and dance. Not really having much else to do, we went, and watched as the Japanese Buddhists light candles and set them afloat into the sea for their ancestors. It was a moving beautiful affair and afterwards Brian taught us how to dance with the others who were there, as he drummed and sang in Japanese. I likened the experience to country line dancing, but Japanese style and more celebratory.

Lanterns for O-Bon Festival Lanterns for O-Bon Festival ready to be set out to ocean. Lanterns for O-Bon Festival Each lantern is made and decorated by the family for the ancestors that have passed away. Lanterns for O-Bon Festival The lanterns for O-Bon Festival are set out to sea after sunset. Afterwards Brian sang while everyone danced. Afterwards Brian sang while everyone danced. The dancing reminded me of a Japanese version of line dancing. The dancing reminded me of a Japanese version of line dancing. AJ and I enjoyed ourselves enough to take a very flattering selfportrait. AJ and I enjoyed ourselves enough to take a very flattering self portrait of our nostrils.

A couple of days later, after hanging out on the beach, we were invited to a local’s 4th of July Potluck party for the gays (okay, really we found the party online, but a person we met on the beach, who was going, totally said it was going to be fun so we took his word for it). We had hemmed and hawed about going as we didn’t really know anyone, but hey, how are we going to meet anyone if we just stay at home? So we ran to the store, picked up some supplies and I made the strawberry mango bars (along with another baked good that I’ll post about later on).

Mango Strawberry Macadamia Nut Shortbread Mango Strawberry Macadamia Nut Shortbread

With all bars like these, I really needed to let them set up overnight in the fridge, but I didn’t have time, so they arrived at the party all sloppy and loose – much like some of the party goers, who had been there for a couple hours knocking back jello shots. Whether it was the jello shots, or the fact that the mango strawberry bars were tasty, the messiness didn’t stop people from scarfing them down. In fact, they seemed to be quite the hit, and whenever we introduced ourselves and someone found out I was the one who made the bars, inevitably they would exclaim “OMG. So YOU’RE the pastry chef! I heard that there was a pastry chef here. Those bars were so good…”

The stunning view from the deck of our host's house for 4th of July. The stunning view from the deck of our host’s house for 4th of July.

I tried to explain to people that I wasn’t a pastry chef, but after the third time it happened I gave up (I’m not sure who started the rumor that I was one, but I’m not going to complain). The host of the party was incredibly sweet and his house was amazing. Like AMAZING amazing. With an incredible view of South and West Maui, he and his partner retired in Maui a few years ago from Los Angeles and they built their place with a deck overlooking the ocean. The view they had was quite literally stunning. What a way to watch the sunset and celebrate Independence Day, with new friends and a month ahead of us, to relax and enjoy, full of promise for things to come…

sunset on 4th of July The guests checking out the stunning sunset on 4th of July in Maui. Photo by Stewart Rubin. The sunset that the guests were looking at. The sunset that the guests were looking at.
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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Broderick July 29, 2011 at 5:17 am

Those bars look delicious! It sounds like you’ve had a great trip – I’ve been enjoying your photos on Instagram. I might need a month of Maui in my life…

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Irvin July 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Everyone needs a month in Maui! Highly recommended.

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elizabeyta July 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

These look lovely.

But you are such a tease! In Hawaii for a month and you only post so few pictures! ;)

I am so glad you a good time.

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Irvin July 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Oh don’t worry, there will be many more posts to come, with plenty of Hawaii pictures…

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Prerna@IndianSimmer July 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Gosh, I wanna go to Hawaii now! Gorgeous photos and WOW a month in Hawaii?! Ok, I want you life :-)
I love anything that has a mango written in front of it!!

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Pat July 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Wowie, bars the color of hibiscus and bougainvilla (? I always get it wrong.) You’re a tropical artist, you are — and let ‘em call you a pastry chef. You earn it.

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Savorique July 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm

The shortbread alone must taste great so I can’t even imagine the taste of the whole bar…
I want to limit the amount of flour so I’m tempted to try with ricotta cheese instead of flour in the strawberry curd filling. I know, quite different but confident it will taste good.

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Irvin July 29, 2011 at 11:55 pm

You can probably substitute 2 tablespoons of corn starch for the flour. But if you do try ricotta cheese, let me know how they turn out!

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chef_d July 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Yum those mango-strawberry bars look amazing! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Love your pics of the sunset in Maui!

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bakerbynature July 30, 2011 at 6:36 am

I am grabbing my bikini and jumping on a plane to Maui NOW- please leave at least 4 of those mango strawberry macadamia nut shortbread bars hidden at an agreed secret hiding spot? They look like the perfect tropical treat.

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Brianne July 31, 2011 at 10:36 am

I love all things brightly colored and all things fruit curd. These are beautiful and I cannot wait to make them. Your creativity with your desserts is astounding!

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Phuoc'n Delicious July 31, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Nice one Irvin! I admire how you found the time to bake during a holiday with limited resources but you made ends meet. I love the sound of this slice. It’s Winter here in Sydney and I’m craving for some warmth, I can’t wait for Spring/Summer to kick in. Definitely will be keeping this recipe in mind, mangoes and macadamias are blissful together!

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London Cleaning August 1, 2011 at 3:38 am

Your trip was truly inspiring because those little yummy bars look just gorgeous!

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Heather Jacobsen August 1, 2011 at 9:21 am

Those look so scrumptious! I’m so happy you had such a great time in Maui. I was there once a long, long time ago. Perhaps I need to make plans for another trip.
I love the nostrils portrait too. :)

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Emmie August 3, 2011 at 1:09 am

yummmm. these look delicious. and I’m enjoying your Hawaii photos. I feel very relaxed and like I’m on vacation when I look at them. ahhhhhhh . . . think I will go have some poi and kalua pig . . . pig is a vegetable, right?

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