Baking in the winter with fresh produce isn’t always as easy as it is in the summer. Summer is overly generous when it comes to stone fruit and berries. The one exception in the winter? Citrus fruits, specifically blood oranges.
Blood Orange Season
Blood oranges are my favorite winter fruit. They are sweet, yet tart and have such a strong red color. The only downside to the citrus fruit is that they have such a limited season. They start to come around at the very end of December and stay through mid-April. While they are around till mid-April, they are really at their peak in the middle of the winter. The tail end of January and February is prime blood orange season. If you’ve never had one, definitely buy one and try one out for yourself right around now, they are delicious.
With blood oranges being in their prime, it only made sense to put them in a baked good. Last year, I was all about these blood orange shortbread bars. They are tangy with a buttery crust and basically taste like a melted creamsicle. This year I wanted to give a seasonal twist to the key lime pie bars I made over the summer. The blood orange citrus bars are basically a bite-sized version of key lime pie. They have a Nilla wafer and graham cracker crust, a citrus curd filling, and heaping layer of fresh whipped cream.
Blood Orange Citrus Bars
To give it a seasonal upgrade, I swapped out the lime curd for blood orange curd. I also adjusted the crust recipe just a bit with a little more butter to give it a slightly better hold. Otherwise, it all stays the same. What I love about this recipe is that you can adjust it for any season with any type of curd. Go for lemon, grapefruit, or even cranberry. Basically, any fruit will work.
The only downside is these bars don’t last very long. The curd and the whipped cream don’t really freeze well. Also, because of the fresh ingredients they only last a few days in the fridge. This really shouldn’t be a problem though because they are delicious and I don’t really see how you would really have a ton of leftovers, to be honest.
Get the details on the blood orange curd below and get ready for a winter bake!
Blood Orange Citrus BarsCourse: DessertCuisine: SeasonalDifficulty: Medium
Make these in the winter for a peak blood orange flavor.
2 cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies
1 cup crush graham cracker
7-9 tbsp melted butter
- Blood Orange Curd
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 large egg yolks
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
zest of blood orange
1/2 cup blood orange juice (1-2 blood oranges)
- Whipped Cream
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla
4- 6 tbsp powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare an 8×8 baking dish with parchment and set aside.
- In a food processor, blend the vanilla wafers and graham crackers until they resembled a sandy texture. Once combined slowly add the 7 tbsp of the melted butter. The cookies should come together, but still be sandy. Add the additional butter if the crust mixture isn’t sticking together.
- Add the cookie mixture to the pan and press firmly to form an even crust. You can do this using the bottom of your palms, or with an additional piece of parchment. You want the crust to be flat and even. Place the pan with the crust in the oven while you make the filling. The crust should cook about 10-15 minutes and should start to turn a golden brown.
- Make the filling. In a medium-sized bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until it is fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg yolks and beat until combined. Next, add in the sweetened condensed milk, blood orange zest, and blood orange juice. Beat all ingredients together until combined. Pour the mixture over the crust and place back in the oven. Bake the bars for about 16-18 minutes, or until the edges of the bars start to turn a golden brown.
- While the bars are baking, make the whipped cream. In a medium-sized bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the heavy whipping cream. Beat on low until bubbles start to form, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high. Beat the mixture until stiff peaks start to form. Once the peaks are formed, add in the vanilla and half of the powdered sugar. Beat for about another minute, or until your desired texture is formed. Gradually fold in the remaining powdered sugar until the desired sweetness is reached. Place whipped cream in the refrigerator to chill until needed.
- Once the bars are cooled, let them cool completely, for about 30 minutes. Once they are completely cool, place the bars in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours. You can also chill the bars overnight.
- Once the chilling process is complete, add the whipped cream. You may have to mix the whipped cream for a minute or so if it fell during the chilling process. Top bars with a heaping spoonful of whipped cream and smooth until flat. Place the bars back in the fridge to chill for an hour.
- Once the chilling is complete, take the bars out and cut into small squares. Store the bars in an air-tight container in the fridge. They should last for about 1 week.
- Zest the blood orange before you juice it. It will be much easier.
Did you make this recipe?! Let me know and share it on Instagram. Tag @crispcrumble and use the hashtag #crispandcrumble.