A treat that simply sparkles: Samantha Seneviratne's Guava Bars

Make these treats ‘that teeter on the edge between shortbread and blondie,’ featured in her cookbook, Bake Smart.

Make these treats ‘that teeter on the edge between shortbread and blondie,’ featured in her book, Bake Smart

Overhead shot of a platter of baked guava bars topped with sugar.
(Photography by Johnny Miller)

Allow us to present these guava bars for your baking consideration. The treats come to us from Samantha Seneviratne’s new cookbook, Bake Smart: Sweets and Secrets from My Oven to Yours, and are just the snack to brighten any day. And while the sanding sugar adds “a little sparkle and crunch,” she told us you could swap it with demerara sugar if that’s what you have on hand — or simply omit it. 

Guava is the star ingredient here, but we were curious whether we could use a different flavour. Seneviratne hasn’t tried that, but said another fruit paste with a similar texture would work: “I bet quince paste would be nice!” 

Read on for how to make a big batch of these bars. 

Guava Bars 

By Samantha Seneviratne

Almost nothing smells better than a guava ripening on a kitchen counter. It reminds me of flowers, berries, honey and goodness all wrapped up in one. Guava paste is a bit easier to find in the supermarket than the fruit, and it is equally tasty and plays very nicely with butter — especially in these soft bar cookies that teeter on the edge between shortbread and blondie.


  • 16 tbsp (2 sticks; 226 g) butter, softened, plus more for the pan
  • ¾ cup (150 g) guava paste, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 2¼ cups (306 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Sanding sugar, for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two opposite sides.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the guava paste and sugar and process to blend. Add the butter and process until smooth. Add the flour and salt and pulse to combine.

Tip the dough out into the prepared pan. Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup or an offset spatula to spread the dough out evenly and flatten it. Sprinkle sanding sugar generously over the top.

Bake until the dough is set, dry and golden around the edges, 25 to 28 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

While the bar is still slightly warm, use the parchment overhang to transfer it to a cutting board. Cut into 27 small 1-by-3-inch rectangles. Let cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature before serving.

Excerpted from Bake Smart: Sweets and Secrets from My Oven to Yours by Samantha Seneviratne. Photography credit to Johnny Miller. Copyright © 2023 by Samantha Seneviratne. Printed courtesy of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. 

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