I am a huge fan of citrus, I bring a grapefruit every day for lunch, and although I’ve taken out a few eyes with the juice, that tangy fruit is always worth the labor to me. So when my brother’s school was selling Florida oranges and grapefruits as a fundraiser, I was all over it. I received 2 big crates, and was so amazed at just how orange the oranges were! I’m not sure of the specific variety, but when I squeezed a few for fresh orange juice, it was so delicious, sweet, and pretty in color — I knew I had to bake with it. So instead of the traditional lemon bars, today I bring you orange bars. I think it’s the perfect dessert for this weird limbo time between winter and the supposed warm weather that’s coming (helllooooo, we’re waitinggg…) — citrus is best enjoyed during the winter months, but the taste and look of this dessert just makes me think of sunshine.
I realize that the color of the bars is still pretty yellow, rather than the vibrant orange color of the juice, and I’m pretty sure that’s because of the egg in the filling. But either way, there’s no mistaking these are orange bars once you bite into one, they’re slightly less tart than lemon bars and have a sweeter finish. If you want to maintain some of that tartness from standard lemon bars, just substitute some of the orange juice for lemon juice. And if you really want to convince your guests that these are orange bars, just add a drop or 2 of orange food coloring to the filling (that’s what I did for my lemon-lime squares and loved how they came out!).
I actually just got back from Florida last night after a quick trip to Orlando with Ryan and Scott (similar to our trip last year, with an emphasis on Universal this time instead of Disney), so it’s quite fitting that I’m sharing a Florida orange recipe with you today. It was great to spend a few days basking in the sun and getting our share of vitamin D, but it was mostly a big tease and now I’m dying for true spring weather to reach Connecticut. Unfortunately for us, temperatures above 50 degrees are not in the forseeable future, so I’ll just have to savor these summery treats instead and enjoy my tan (aka sunburn) while it lasts.
You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to throw these together, so grab some oranges while they’re still cheap and help usher in warm weather with these delicious bars! Stay tuned for another Florida-themed treat next week, can’t wait to share them with you :)
For the crust:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
For the orange filling:
Zest of 1 medium-sized orange
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ pan thoroughly.
– In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
– In another bowl, whisk together flour and salt
– Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add the flour and salt. Mix until well combined.
– Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
– While the dough is baking, prepare the filling by simply mixing all of the ingredients together until well combined.
– Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the filling are slightly golden brown. Let bars cool to room temperature, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares to serve.