Monday, April 6, 2020

ChezCindy: Sweet-tart Citrus Bars

I recently decided to make Lemon Bars for a friend's birthday treat.  I had 5 whole lemons in the fridge.  I thought that would be sufficient to squeeze out 1 cup of lemon juice.  Nope.  I was already in the middle of baking the crust, so I had to decide what to do, run to the store or improvise.  A quick search in the refrigerator bins brought discovery that I had fresh oranges.  Lemon Bars were now to become Citrus Bars.

It is always a pleasure when an improvisation brings forward something better than the original.  Lemon Bars are a childhood favorite that I have never stopped loving.  But these Citrus Bars might have jumped over as my new favorite.  Using a blend of orange and lemon juice brought a more balanced flavor.  There is the tartness of the lemons, but a hint of sweetness from the oranges.  I also used the zest from each, giving the bars little bits of orange and yellow speckled throughout.  Very pretty and so delicious.

Sweet-tart Citrus Bars
For the Crust:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:
6 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest*
1 teaspoon orange zest*
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, roughly 5-6 lemons
1/3 cup fresh orange juice, roughly 1-2 oranges
1 cup all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the crust:  Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light in color and creamy in texture.  Add in the flour and salt, mix until just starting to come together.  The dough will be crumbly and not fully combined.  Transfer the mix to a 9x13-inch baking pan.  Knead the dough enough to press it into the pan creating an even crust over the bottom of the baking pan.  Chill for 15 minutes.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-17 minutes until lightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

Make the filling:  Whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon & orange zest, lemon & orange juices, and the flour.  Pour over the cooled crust.  Bake in the oven, on the oven rack centered in the oven, for 30-35 minutes until the filling is set.  Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

When cool, cut the dessert into squares or triangles, dust with powdered sugar.

* Remember to zest the citrus before cutting into the fruit.  It is not impossible to zest the lemon or orange after cutting into it, but it is rather difficult.

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