I’ve always loved Lemon Bars, but lately could not get the concept of creating an Orange Bar out of my mind. I was determined to try my hand at them while citrus season is still in full swing, but the concept in my head took some trial, and many errors, before it was fit to print. I knew my first attempt didn’t quite hit the mark, but sent several over to my 87 years young mom, Neeners, who snorted, “Do not spend any more time on those. Move on to something else – they were horrible and I threw them out”. Does this paint the same picture of parental nurturing and support in your mind, as it does to mine? Neeners’ quite accurate review just made me all the more determined, and after another attempt or two, now think these bars are well worth making – a crispy shortbread crust, topped with a creamy, slightly tangy orange layer that has been brightened with the flavors of both tangelos and a colorful blood orange. Neeners has declared these bars as ‘Sumptuous’, which is what she calls everything she likes, but nevertheless it’s a far cry better than her first review.
These bars are incredibly simple to make – seriously. First you mix the crust together, then throw it in the oven for 30 minutes until it’s golden and crispy. While that is going on, juice your citrus. The juice of one tangelo is used because it’s really tart and deep orange in color. Then we add the juice of a blood orange because it’s delicious, and almost a purple-red tone. This is important because we do not want the color or the flavor of the bars to be wimpy. Finally, the orange element is added. We cheat a tad by using orange juice concentrate since instead of regular orange juice because it’s a lot more intense. And finally, since it wasn’t quite tart enough, there’s some lemon juice added just to top the whole thing off.
The result is a crispy shortbread crust and a creamy, velvety, and deeply orange topping with just enough tartness to keep you coming back for bite after bite. A little powdered sugar sprinkled on top is a nice idea, but not necessary. I have often been known to eat them straight out of the refrigerator without stopping for the glamor shot of sugar on top.
However you prefer them, I hope this recipe is one that stays in your recipe file for a very long time. Thanks for reading today! xoxox
- FOR THE CRUST
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (I cube) of butter
- FOR THE TOPPING
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tangelo, juiced
- 1 blood orange juiced
- Approximately 3 ounces orange juice concentrate
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- FOR THE CRUST
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line an 8x8 pan with foil, leaving enough to go over the sides. This is so that you can pull the bars out of the pan once they have cooled, and you won’t have to pry them out of the pan with a knife. They are quite stubborn, so you will thank yourself for doing this later. Spray the foil generously with cooking spray, especially the sides.
- In a food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine. Cut the butter into about ½ inch pieces and drop onto the flour and continue pulsing until well combined. If you don’t have a food processor, use a hand-held pastry blender to cut the butter in until the mixture is crumbly.
- Pat the flour mixture into the bottom of the pan and push down hard, forming a crust. Do the best you can to make sure it’s evenly distributed.
- Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. The crust will start to turn a light golden brown, which is right on the money for where you want to be.
- FOR THE TOPPING
- In the food processor (or a mixing bowl if you don’t have a food processor), combine the eggs, sugar, flour, and salt. Pulse/stir together to blend.
- Next, get out a measuring cup. Add the tangelo juice and blood orange juice, then check to see how many ounces you came up with. Add enough orange juice concentrate to come up to the 6-ounce measure on the measuring cup. (I have been known to cheat and add another couple of ounces of orange juice concentrate if I had some to get rid of with no ill effects, other than a slightly creamier texture of filling, so live dangerously if you want).
- Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
- Add juice mixture to egg/sugar mixture and process/beat until well blended and kind of frothy. Set aside and wait for your crust to get done.
- TO FINISH
- When the crust comes out of the oven, immediately pour the egg/juice mixture over the top and return to the oven.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the topping stops jigging when you move it. Depending on the temperament and temperature of your oven, this can take longer or less than 20 minutes, so start peeking at it around the 15 minute mark. It might take as long as 30 minutes, so there is no room for panic if it seems to be taking its own sweet time.
- When the filling is set, remove from oven and cook on a cooling rack.
- Pull your bars out by lifting up on the foil sling you made, gently pull down the sides of the foil, cut those guys up and have a citrus feast!
- PS: It’s always a nice touch to sprinkle the tops of these guys with powdered sugar if you are serving to anybody as opposed to eating straight out of the refrigerator like I do, and on that note – keep bars refrigerated when not munching.