Capture the sunny flavor of freshly squeezed orange juice in these bright and refreshing citrus bars. The filling is flavored with naturally sweet orange juice and naturally zesty grated orange peel, and then baked on a delicious shortbread crust. A dusting of powdered sugar tops it off. If you are looking for a light, cheerful dessert, this is a great option.
I have always loved lemon bars, but why not make bars flavored with orange instead? That’s what I was thinking this morning when I had a craving for citrus and noticed that some of our clementines were getting a bit soft and needing to be used. It is that time of year when those of us who live in the northern climates crave sunshine and warmth. And citrus symbolizes sunshine to me. Since there is not much warmth going on at all outside here, why not try to create our own warm sunshine in the form of a lovely, bright dessert?
I adapted this recipe from one I found at the Better Homes and Gardens website. Their recipe calls for blood oranges, but since I had lots of celmentines, I substituted them instead. I am very happy with the result! Delicious, light, and full of orange flavor, these sunshine citrus bars are fruity, sweet, and tart, all at the same time. The shortbread crust is tasty and nice and thin, so you don’t feel over-full after having a piece. And I have to say, I really enjoyed zesting and juicing the clementines. It doesn’t take that much time, and the fresh citrus scent is divine.
As I have already mentioned, it is still chilly here. However, there are small signs of spring. Our crocuses are poking through the cold dirt! And at night, when I take our dog out, I hear so many sounds I have not heard over the winter–spring peepers, and a couple of other frog noises that I recognize, but can’t remember the name of. Tomorrow is the second full moon in this month, and apparently, the last time we will have a blue moon for quite awhile. I hope it is clear so we can see it.
Even if we don’t have warm spring weather, spring sports have begun! Soccer games and track meets, here we come! As long as we have winter coats, hats, and boots, let it be a midwestern spring. 🙂 Last week, my daughter performed a concert in an honors band, made up of a few kids from each school in our county. It was clear at this concert that the kids all loved playing their instruments, and loved the music they were creating. The music was powerful, masterful, and full of emotion. There is nothing like live music to nourish the soul. I was flooded with memories, and my mind wandered freely with the music. Listening to live music is a way to break and release some of the endless circles of our minds. I highly recommend it!
These sunshine citrus bars are nourishing for the soul as well. They have such a bright and naturally sweet flavor, just what we need to brighten up a cold day! I hope you all have a great weekend, and I hope you have a happy Easter, if you celebrate it! I am taking a plate of these over to Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Angie and Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl.
Sunshine Citrus Bars
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/3 cup of unsalted butter
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of grated orange peel
- 2/3 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 5 clementines for this)
- 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- powdered sugar for dusting the tops
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper, so the edges drape over the sides.
For the crust:
In a large bowl, combine the cup of flour, the 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. With a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and with your hands, press the mixture down firmly and evenly. Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until the edges get just a little bit golden. Remove from the oven.
For the filling:
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Grate the orange peel and squeeze the juice out of the clementines. In a medium bowl, put the sugar, eggs, orange peel, and orange juice. Stir with a whisk until the mixture is smooth, trying to separate the orange peel if it is clumping. Stir in the flour and salt. Once the crust is done with its first bake, pour the orange mixture over the hot crust. Put it back into the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the filling is set.
Let it cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. When it is cool, use the edges of the parchment paper to lift the uncut bars out of the baking dish and place on a cutting board. Cut into bars with a serrated knife. Dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Store the bars in an airtight container in a single layer. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.com