Blood Orange Bars highlight the special flavors of the beautiful fruit. Rich buttery shortcrust topped with tangy blood orange custard. A perfect cookie bar.
For many women impulse buying probably involves a pair of shoes or a cute handbag. I spend half my life in a chef’s uniform and rubber clogs, so the shoes really would be a huge waste of money. Plus, 25 years in clogs has pretty much left me unable to walk in heels.
Me, I tend to impulse buy produce, especially fruit. I just can’t resist an especially luscious looking pint of seasonal berries or an exotic fruit I’ve never tasted.
Having purchased a bunch of beautiful blood oranges on impulse, I took the opportunity to experiment with some favorite citrus recipes. After making a batch of Blood Orange Marmalade I still had some oranges left so I made these Blood Orange Bars.
A good lemon bar is one of life’s little perfections; the buttery short crust, the soft, tangy filling and that little sprinkle of sugary goodness on top. While you can’t improve on perfection, it’s fun to switch things up from time to time.
I was curious to see if the lovely color and delicate flavor of blood oranges would make a good bar cookie. Spoiler alert, it does!
This recipe is similar to any lemon bar recipe. The shortcrust base is pre-baked and then topped with the custard and put back into the oven to finish. Since blood oranges are a little sweeter than lemons I lowered the amount of sugar in the custard filling and added the juice of 1 lemon to brighten the flavor.
For the Crust:
- 2 cups (10 oz, 283g) cake flour
- 2/3 cup (4 oz, 113g) powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup (8 oz, 226g) unsalted butter, room temp
For the filling
- 1 cup (8 oz, 226g) granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- Zest from 1 blood orange, grated very fine
- 1 cup (8 oz, 236 ml) blood orange juice (about 6 oranges)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 325F convection or 350F regular
- Lightly butter a 13 x 9 baking pan, then line with parchment paper in both directions
For the Crust
- Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a mixer bowl
- On low speed, add the butter
- Increase the speed to medium and mix just until the butter is incorporated. It will look powdery, but it will come together when you press it into the pan
- Dump the mix into the pan and press out into an even layer, making sure to get the corners
- Bake until golden brown. About 15-20 minutes
- If the crust puffs up in any spots, just gently press it down (wearing an oven mitt) after it's out of the oven
- Turn off the convection to bake the filling. Reduce oven temperature 325F
For the Filling:
- To save on dishes I make the filling in the same bowl I used for the crust
- Combine the sugar, salt and flour and whisk to combine the ingredients
- Add the eggs and whisk until combined
- Add zest and juices and whisk to combine
- Pour the filling onto the warm crust and bake until the custard is set, about 20 minutes. Give the pan a little shake and if the custard doesn't jiggle, it's ready.
- Cool to room temp in the pan
- Run a butter knife between the parchment and the pan to make sure the filling didn't leak out and cause the paper to stick.
- Put the bars, still in the parchment paper, on a sheet pan in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes
- Lift onto a cutting board and peel back the edges of the paper. Cut into 24 squares
- Wipe the blade of the knife with a damp cloth between cuts to get cleaner edges
- Sift an even layer of confectioner's sugar over the surface then lift each bar off the paper
You must add the juice last when mixing the filling. If you add the juice to the eggs before the sugar the eggs will "cook" in the juice.
You can cut the recipe in 1/2 and bake in an 8"x8" inch pan.
These are best eaten the day they're made, but can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.
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