Friday, May 27, 2016

BACKSTORY: The Once Secret Recipe for PCC's Famous Pineapple Bar Recipe!

One of the fun aspects of my service in the E-Commerce Dept., at the Polynesian Cultural Center is helping with the on-line social outreach. I get to work with Facebook, Pinterest, Blogs, and internet sites.

So it was no surprise when I was added as a member of the I Love BYUH (Hawaii) Facebook Group. It has become wildly successful. Alumni and current students and employees alike are busily posting and reading about past and present happenings, memories and pictures. I have become quite involved in answering fun questions, such as "who is in this picture" and "does anyone have....."

What I find really fun is how much our alumni miss the great food they ate while working at the Polynesian Cultural Center. "Does anyone have the recipe for Chicken Long Rice from Prime Dining?" "How about Panipopo?"

Each of these recipes were easy to find and post. But the most requested recipe proved to be the hardest one......a wonderful treat called "Pineapple Bars"

We have it, of course, because we serve it every day. But since we are just starting to enter the busy summer season, it took a few weeks for Chef to find the time to send it over. I opened up the email with great excitement, and then ran into my first hurdle. Let’s just say, if you ever need to feed 100 or more people, I’ve got the recipe for you!

Obviously I needed to reduce quantities. Luckily, there are some awesome apps for that. But I didn’t want to simply trust those measurements, especially since I needed to round off quantities when converting from multiple gallons to measuring cups.

So I decided that I would have to test the recipe first.

Here is where I ran into my second hurdle.

There were no instructions. Zilch. “I’ll just have to figure it out”, I decided.

My third hurdle came in the form of two mystery ingredients.  The first mystery ingredient was ‘modified starch’. That turned out to be cornstarch…..easy enough! The second ingredient is simply called macaroon mix. There is no macaroon mix at the store. I did find a number of macaroon cookie recipes online. They usually call for shredded coconut, egg whites and sugar. So, I made enough cookie dough to equal the required 4 cups, and kept on going with my great, experiment.

Needless to say, my first attempt bombed royally. My pineapple bars came out more like a gooey candy. My husband, however LOVED it and gobbled them up quickly. Still, they weren’t the PCC Pineapple Bar that we know and love, so it was back to the drawing board.

Chef invited me to come down to Food & Beverage to watch them make the cookies. This proved invaluable. For instance, I discovered that the Macaroon Mix is dry. So, putting the egg whites in is the main reason my first attempt failed so badly.

Now I was ready to return to my humble kitchen and try it again. But first, I had to solve the Macaroon Mix dilemma. It turns out that King Arthurs Flour carries a dry Macaroon Mix. Sadly, it is not stocked in any grocery store on Oahu.

So, I went to the King Arthur’s website, where I was able to look up the ingredients listed for their Macaroon Mix. I discovered that it contained shredded coconut, corn starch, sugar and DRIED egg whites. Finding them was a bit of detective work, but easily solved by going to the wedding section of Walmart where they actually stock powered egg white.

I didn’t have any measurements for putting this dried macaroon mix together, of course, so it was back to the kitchen.

After my fourth attempt, and numerous taste testers, I can confidently present to you the TRUE PCC Pineapple Bar recipe. And don’t worry, the experimentation part may have been a little challenging, but the actual recipe is EASY!

·         NOTE: Pan – I suggest a 10 x 15 baking sheet, at least 1 ½” high. I actually ended up using a roasting pan – I know…but it’s what I had and it measured out perfectly.


PCC Pineapple Bars
 Yield 32 pineapple bars

Crumb Mix

4 cups of coconut macaroon cookie mix (available from King Arthur Flour)

*see below to make your own mix!

4 cups of sugar

1 cups of bread flour

2/3 cup of shortening

Place all crumb mix ingredients into a bowl and mix on low until it resembles fine crumbs. Place to the side.

      *Make Your Own Macaroon Mix  

(use if you weren’t able to find Coconut Macaroon Mix):

2 1/2 cups shredded coconut

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup dried egg whites (can be found in the wedding section of Walmart)

Stir until all ingredients are well combined. 

Pineapple Filling Mix

2 large (20 oz) cans of crushed pineapple – drained thoroughly

1 ½ cups of sugar

1 cup of modified starch (cornstarch)

Mix all the above ingredients together, set aside.


Preheat oven to 320o 

I suggest a 10 x 15 baking sheet, at least 1 ½” high. I actually ended up using a roasting pan – I know…but it’s what I had and it measured out perfectly.

These pictures show how PCC get's the job done! 
Pineapple Bar - step 3

Fill pan up ¼ of an inch deep with approximately 2/3 of the crumb mix. Using a piece of sheet pan liner (wax paper), press down on the crumb mix firmly to make it even.

 Pineapple Bar - step 2

Spread the pineapple spread evenly over the crumb mix.

Pineapple Bar - step 4

Top with remaining crumb mix. Using wax or parchment paper, pat down gently, but thoroughly 

Pineapple Bar - step 1

Bake at 320 degrees for forty five minutes. Cool. Cut into fourths length way, and eighths width way.

Pineapple Bar - step 5


  1. Thank you for doing this!! Sad to say, I don't remember eating these at all while I was in Hawaii... but I sure wish I had... These were a hit at my dinner tonight!!

  2. i was told that this recipe does not contain egg by one of the students serving in oahu PCC....