Blood Orange Bars

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

My favorite thing about winter is, hands-down, the abundance of citrus — blood oranges in particular. I love everything about them, from their sweet, tart flavor to their gorgeous red hue. It may seem like a small delight, but they bring me so much joy during these gloomy colder months.

Here, I’m sharing my favorite way to celebrate the citrus: homemade blood orange bars. Once you try them, you may never look at lemon bars the same. The blood orange custard is luscious and creamy, and the simple press-in crust is buttery and a bit chewy: the perfect contrast to the custard. If you’re short on time or can’t find blood oranges, you can swap in store-bought blood orange juice and use a navel orange for the zest. But whatever you do, don’t skip the powdered sugar!

These blood orange bars are a seasonal twist on classic lemon bars.

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 stick

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds

    blood oranges (4 to 6)

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1

    large egg yolk

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    cream of tartar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

Make the crust:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly coat an 8×8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom and two sides with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang of about 2 inches on the sides to form a sling.

  2. Finely grate the zest from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds blood oranges until you have 2 tablespoons. Juice the zested oranges until you have 1/2 cup juice.

  3. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. (Alternatively, melt the butter on the stovetop and pour into a large bowl.) Add 1 tablespoon of the zest, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and until combined. Add 1 cup all-purpose flour and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.

  4. Transfer into the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or your fingers to press firmly into the pan. Bake until the edges of the crust begin to brown slightly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the blood orange filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Place the remaining 1 tablespoon blood orange zest, 3 large eggs, 1 large egg yolk, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the blood orange juice and whisk to combine. While whisking slowly, add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and whisk until smooth.

  2. Remove the parbaked crust from the oven and use a fork to gently poke holes halfway through the crust. Pour the blood orange filling onto the warm crust. Bake until light brown around the edges, set in the middle, and the top appears relatively dry, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour more.

  3. Generously dust the bars with powdered sugar. Run a knife around the edges of the slab. Grasping the parchment or foil sling, lift the blood orange bar slab out of the dish and onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 bars. Dust with more powdered sugar, if desired, before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Nicole Rufus

Assistant Food Editor

Nicole is the Assistant Food Editor at Kitchn. She writes about recipes as well as developing some of her own. You can usually find her playing around in the kitchen or online “window” shopping. She currently resides in Brooklyn and is getting her master’s in Food Studies.

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