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Winter Citrus Bars

Winter Citrus Bars are sweet and slightly tart with all the flavors of my favorite winter citrus. Grapefruit shines in this recipe with hints of Meyer lemons and blood oranges for a treat that will brighten the grayest winter day. 

Winter Citrus Bars

Citrus is the bright spot in all the winter gray. The color is vibrant, the flavor is vibrant, and doggoneit winter citrus is happy.

My favorite is grapefruit.

If I could tell you how many grapefruits Chad and I peel and eat each week you would be shocked, I’m sure. I can’t give you an actual number because I have definitely lost count. It’s that many.

In winter months especially (because that’s when they are oh so perfectly tart and sweet), we peel and eat them for mid-morning breakfasts, or after we walk the dogs, and last week during one particular cold snap, we parked ourselves in front of the fireplace, fuzzy socks pulled over our chilled feet, and shared the best grapefruit I can ever remember eating.

Winter Citrus Bars with Grapefruit, Blood Oranges, and Meyer lemons

Ripe fruit is tricky to find this time of year, but Florida grapefruit is at its peak. So I thought it was high time to share with you one of my most favorite treats: Winter Citrus Bars.

Grapefruit Slices

I based these on one of my favorite lemon bar recipes, but I swapped out lemon juice for the juice of one whole awesomely perfect grapefruit, complete with pretty pink chunks of pulp.

Instead of using the zest from a grapefruit though, since the skin can be slightly bitter, I paired that freshly squeezed grapefruit juice with the zested peels of two other winter citrus favorites: Meyer lemons and blood oranges.

Grapefruit Bars with Shortbread Crust

The result is a sweetly tart bar with a creamy texture on a buttery shortbread crust. The grapefruit flavor is more complex than plain old lemon. It’s more sweetness than tartness with just the right amount of fruity tang.

Winter Citrus Bar Recipe

 

Florida’s unique fertile soil and lush subtropical climate are what make Florida grapefruit the sweetest and juiciest variety of grapefruit in the world, but they can also take a toll on the outer appearance of the fruit, so when choosing a grapefruit for this recipe, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. The outside might not be smooth and unblemished like the skin of the meyer lemons, but the inside yields the prettiest pink, most flavorful flesh.

 

Citrus Bars with Grapefruit

It’s what makes these bars so awesome — the bright happy spot in a boring bleak day!

Love Lemon? You should also try…

Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Meyer Lemon Mimosa recipe

 

Strawberry Lemonade Loaf is a pound cake in a loaf pan! It’s one of my very favorite cakes. 

Meyer Lemon Mimosas. These are like boozy lemonade. You’ll love ’em. 

Winter Citrus Bars

Winter Citrus Bars

Yield: 16 bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Sweet and tart, with a smooth, creamy texture and a buttery shortbread crust. Winter citrus bars are loaded with my favorite winter fruits: grapefruit, blood oranges, and Meyer lemons. Note that the prep time includes 30 minutes to chill the shortbread crust before baking

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Filling:

  • 2 large eggs + 7 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (the juice of one whole medium red grapefruit)
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon blood orange zest
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour, sifted

Instructions

  1. Butter a 9 X 9 baking dish, line it with parchment or foil, and then butter the parchment or foil.
  2. To make the shortbread crust, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a box grater, two forks, or a pastry cutter, until coarse crumbles form and the mixture sticks together when you grab a fistfull and squeeze it. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the chilled crust for 20 minutes -- it will be nice and golden.
  4. While the crust bakes, make the filling. Whisk together the eggs and yolks. Add the granulated sugar and keep whisking until frothy. Pour in the grapefruit juice (including any chunky bits of pulp!) and add the Meyer lemon + blood orange zest, and the salt. Continue whisking until combined.
  5. Sift the flour into the bowl and stir until combined.
  6. Pour the filling over the baked crust.
  7. Reduce the oven to 300°F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (when you shake the pan the center should be set.
  8. Let the bars cool completely before slicing. To slice, lift the parchment or foil from the pan and pull away from the sides of the baked bars. Cut into 16 squares.
  9. I like my lemon bars best chilled! Store them in the fridge.

Notes

1. If you can't find blood oranges or Meyer lemons, just use regular lemons. Navel oranges, tangerines, mandarin oranges -- any will do!
2. I know it looks like these bars take FOREVER, but the active time is really very minimal! This recipe is really very easy.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 171 Total Fat: 9g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 131mg Sodium: 125mg Carbohydrates: 18g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 7g Protein: 5g

I adapted this recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Lemon Bars. The crust is the same but I changed up the filling and simplified it a little bit.

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Sundra

Tuesday 24th of February 2015

This looks so good! Hopefully I can also follow your recipe to the T. This will be a nice treat for any season and the kids will surely love it.

Heather Tullos

Wednesday 4th of March 2015

I hope you enjoyed these Sundra! Thanks for reading!

Creative Mama Renee

Saturday 31st of January 2015

Oh yum! Citrus is at its peak right now at our California Farmer's markets. Grapefruits, blood oranges, tangelos, etc. So. Much. Citrus!

Heather Tullos

Saturday 31st of January 2015

Loving all of it! Thanks Renee!

Peggy Campbell

Friday 30th of January 2015

I know I'm your mom, but you are brilliant! LOVE grapefruit and this combination sounds perfect!

Heather Tullos

Saturday 31st of January 2015

Awww thanks mom!! :) I thought you'd like these!

Choc Chip Uru

Thursday 29th of January 2015

These citrusy bars look so delicious, refreshing almost!

Cheers Choc Chip Uru

Heather Tullos

Thursday 29th of January 2015

Definitely refreshing!

Suzanne Huggins

Thursday 29th of January 2015

I Can't WAIT to try these grapefruit bars. I love "tart" foods so, these should be on the top of my list to "try" them!

Heather Tullos

Thursday 29th of January 2015

Oh great! Let me know how you like them Suzanne!!