Triple Citrus Bars ~ Fresh lime, lemon, and clementine juices along with zest mixed into cream cheese and baked on a shortbread crust.I am a die-hard chocolate lover. When given the choice between desserts, almost every time I will go for the chocolate whatever, cake, tort, brownie, etc. There is the occasional venture off the chocolate path, that usually is for creme brûlée.
But this chocolate habit is usually tossed out the window when I venture into my local bakery. Then I am drawn to the lemon bars. Why? I have no idea. Lemon was a flavor I had to mature into. Now, it seems I am slightly addicted.
I’ve wanted to make my own lemon bars for years, but why, when I can buy just one and not be tempted by the rest of the pan. Plus there’s that whole I suck at baking thing. Sure I can make a simple cake or a cookie, but there is so much more to the world of baking than cakes and cookies.I’ve shared my inability to eat many sweets and my strong dislike of wasting things. If I make a bad savory dish, I can keep working at it to at least make it edible for dinner despite not being website-worthy, but baking is an entirely different matter. Once it’s ruined, it’s ruined.
But I want to learn. I want to remove the fear I have and the easiest way for me to accomplish was to get a teacher, by enlisting friends and family. Last year my grandma taught me how to make her pie crust, something I realize I’ve yet to share it…I better get on that. My friend Darla loves to bake so she helps out when our schedules align.
A friend helped me with these, I wrote the recipe, but had a buddy in the kitchen to teach me some finer points in baking. I clearly need to learn some basics…like don’t set the butter out hours before you want to make shortbread (yep, had to toss it in the freezer in order to get us started on this recipe.) I’ll continue to develop baking recipes, which honestly is easier than executing them and a million times easier than making them pretty, but I’m still more comfortable in savory cooking. Did you see the Lemon Ginger Meringues? I can’t even use a pastry bag, you can easily tell which ones are my friend’s and which ones are mine. Now back to these Citrus bars. OMG delicious. First shortbread, it’s utterly amazing. It’s the natural companion to my coffee. Buttery, flakey, delicious. Now that’s I’ve helped make it for this recipe, I am prepared to make it on its own to enjoy with my coffee, turns out it’s not all that hard.
Then the actual citrus half of these bars, equal parts lemon, lime, and orange juices. I used clementines instead of your typical navel or Valencia oranges (and because I have a dozen or so in my refrigerator). This combination of citrus juices makes these both tart and sweet. The curd is so creamy. Wait, is it still curd if there is cream cheese? Or is it something different altogether? See, I have so much to learn. The creamy curd, which is what I will call it until one of you corrects me, could be eaten all on its own. All of my spoons were used up taste testing this, we just couldn’t stop eating it.
Triple Citrus Bars are absolutely perfect for any occasion. Holidays, family Sunday dinners, a random Thursday, you can’t go wrong making them. They are easy to make and each of the steps are quick, but they are rather time consuming from an-out-of-the-oven-until-you-can-eat-them standpoint. They really need to cool and set, be chilled, and finally warm up almost to room temperature before cutting. This was the only downside because I lack all patience. Other than that, it’s a delightful recipe.
Triple Citrus Bars
- 3/4 pound unsalted butter; cold
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 ounces cream cheese , room temperature
- 2 teaspoons grated lime zest , minced
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest , minced
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest , minced
- Pinch table salt
- 1-14- ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
Set out butter 20 minutes before beginning.
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter.
Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.
Add the butter, that has been cut into pats, to the bowl and use a pastry fork to mix it all together until the mixture resembles sand or fine crumbs.
Press into the prepared pan that has been lined with parchment. Use another piece of parchment to press the crust into the plan.
Bake until golden around the edges, about 20 minutes.
Keep oven on.
While crust cools, in a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly combine the cream cheese, zests, and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy.
Add sweetened condensed milk until no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolks. Take care all is mixed well.
Add juices and gently whisk until combined (mixture will thicken slightly).
Pour filling into crust; spread evenly to corners and smooth with rubber spatula.
Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours.
Lift bars from baking pan using the parchment edges; cut bars into squares.
Let bars stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before cutting.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if using, and serve.
Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 2 days; crust will soften slightly.
Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated's "Triple Citrus Bars"
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