Saturday, January 10, 2009

Humble little citrus bars


There is nothing fancy about these bars. I am completely aware of the fact that none of my readers will be wowed or have their hair blown back.

But they are so, SO good.

I made these for the first time last summer to bring to a BBQ, using just the zest and juice of key limes and garnishing with toasted coconut.
I had also brought strawberry shortcake- made in the height of local strawberry season, with a mascarpone whipped filling. I was expecting that to be the crowd pleaser, but everyone kept going back for the lime bars.
I knew I would need to revisit the recipe when citrus season rolled around.

Here we are, six months later with an abundance of cool citrus fruits to play with. This particular batch was made with the zest and juice of limes, meyer lemons, and cara cara oranges- garnished with a piece of candied grapefruit zest (leftover from my Grapefruit Campari Sorbet. Stay tuned).
I will be making these again in a few weeks using all seville oranges (my fave) for a super tart party in my mouth.

It's hard to say exactly what makes these simple little bars so addicting. I really love the animal cracker crust as a stand in for the everyday graham crackers. And the texture of the filling is nothing short of dreamy- having just enough cream cheese in them for a slight tang, but not so much that they are cheesecakey (nothing against you, cheesecake- but there is a time and a place.)

This recipe comes from a well known cooking periodical. I will not tell you which one, because the word on the street is that they are total nazis about food bloggers reprinting their recipes.
I'm going to break all kinds of laws here, and supply you with the recipe- without citing the source. Lets see if thugs wearing little red bow ties come after me brandishing rapier swords and chucking ninja stars.

Mystery Citrus Bars (as I made them)

5 oz animal crackers
3 T packed brown sugar
2 T melted butter
1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving excess to overhang pan sides. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Pulse animal crackers in a food processor until broken down. Add brown sugar and salt. Pulse until you have evenly fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse until crumbs are moistened.
Press evenly into the bottom of prepared pan (use the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup). Bake until golden brown. About 18-20 minutes. Cool while you make the filling.

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp each of grated lime, meyer lemon, and orange zest (mince zest with a sharp knife after zesting)
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
4 T lime juice, 2 T meyer lemon juice, and 2 T cara cara* orange juice

*cara cara oranges are slightly less sweet than regular oranges. If using regular oranges, decrease juice to 1 T and increase either meyer lemon or lime juice by 1 T.

Go Oregon Ducks

Stir the cream cheese, zest, and salt with a rubber spatula until softened and creamy. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk thoroughly until no lumps remain. Whisk in egg yolk. Add juices and whisk until incorporated.
Pour filling into crust, spread to corners, and smooth surface with a spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan. 15-20 minutes.
Cool to room temp, then cover with foil and refrigerate until completely chilled- at least 2 hours.
Loosen edges with a paring knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions. Cut bars into 16 squares.



Lunch Buckets said...

Last year I made candied grapefruit peel from an entire trash bag full of grapefruit. And then I ate it. It took a while, but I ate it. Totally worth it.

Peabody said...

These look fantastic to me. I might even break out my meyer lemons to make them.

Foodycat said...

They look so good! I copied a recipe from the newspaper yesterday for a limecurd bar with crystallised ginger crust - but I think these look better!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

These look soooo good. i can see why you would love them!

matt wright said...

I am wowed, so there. My hair didn't blow back though. I tried.. it just didn't work. Too much product I think.

They do look soo good!

I hate nazi periodicals that don't like bloggers. screw em.

Peter M said...

Yeah, but these look much?

Brittany said...

Actually,I am completely blown away by these. I will take tart over overly sweet anyday, and the consistancy of these looks so perfect right now!

Emily said...

I know where you got the recipe! I know where you got the recipe!

They are nazis.

These look spectacular! I'm glad they're not too cheesecakey.

Brittany said...

LB- My favorite zest in which to candy...

Peabody- Yes! Tell me how they turn out. I haven't tried an all meyer lemon variation and I'm curious.

Foodycat- Oh, totally - go for these.
A crystallized ginger garnish would be both quaint and delish (??)..

Judy- I wish I didn't love them so much...sweetened condensed milk pretty much goes right to my ass.

Matt- I think it would be hard for your curls to be blown back, but they look really illustrious and shiny.
You should be in a breck commercial.

Peter- The cost is one 7 course Greek tasting menu dinner.

Brittany- The consistency never fails to give me a boner. I would describe it as somewhere between luscious and sultry.

Em- I was wondering who would be the first to recognize the culprits! Congrats on being the first.

Heather said...

Haha at the Ducks.

I want these. It's blood orange and Meyer lemon time, no? I bet these would taste great with a pitcher of greyhounds.

Brooke said...

I still have dreams about these babies. And I wake up feeling kinda funny. I wanna try blood orange - sounds lovely.

cook eat FRET said...

now see, bars as a rule are so not my thing because they usually suck.


i know that these would drop my dick in the dirt. because i implicitly believe you. yes i do.

however, citrus bars are the enemy.
and life is unfair.

Brittany said...

Heather- we are in the height of 'whatver citrus fruit your heart desires' season.
Make sure to take advantage.

Brooke- Totally. Citrus bar wet dreams.

Claudia- Honey, I could feed you a bar cookie or two that would have you singing a new tune. But yes, they are often overly sweet crimes against humanity.

Thanks Norm!