I’m all about the seasonal fruits. Berries and stone fruit in the summer and spring, apples and figs in the fall, and oranges in the winter. My current obsession: blood oranges.
Blood oranges tend to have a small window for when they are available during the winter. This year, they started to show up in bulk around the beginning of January. Just like a piece of citrus this time of year, they are juicy and incredibly refreshing. Blood oranges tend to have a sweet-tart taste to them, unlike the traditional orange.
With the limited availability, I am milking blood orange season for all its worth. Along with my daily blood orange intake, I’ve managed to incorporate the bold citrus into a variety of baked goods.
This week, the blood oranges found themselves sitting on top of a citrus shortbread.
These blood orange shortbread bars were basically a seasonal twist on the classic lemon bars. I replaced the lemon for blood orange and added a bit of blood orange zest in the brown butter shortbread base for an extra tangy punch.
Now let’s talk about the best part. THE CURD. The blood orange curd was basically like a melted creamsicle. It’s creamy, tangy, and sweet all at the same time.
I placed the curd on top of a dense shortbread crust, infused with a little best of blood orange zest to highlight the flavors in the curd. Finally, the bars were topped with a little dusting of powdered sugar to round out the flavors.
These bars are the best of both worlds. They are sweet and tangy, sweet and balanced, and most important, DELICIOUS!
Check out the step-by-step guide to creating these little creamsicle bites below.
Blood Orange Shortbread Bars
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon blood orange zest
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon powered sugar
- First, make the brown butter. Add 1 cup of butter to a small saucepan on low-medium heat. Stir the butter as it melts. Once the butter melts, it will start to foam. (Don't worry this is normal!) After foaming, the butter will to a golden clear color and then start to brown. Keep an eye on the butter and stir frequently, as the butter can burn pretty quickly. Once the butter is browned, transfer to a bowl and set in the freezer. Let the butter cool until solid.
- While the butter is cooling, make the base for the shortbread. Add the sugar, baking powder, salt, and blood orange zest in a bowl. Mix to combine.
- Once the butter is ready, add the butter and egg to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender or even your hands to combine. The dough will be crumbly and dry.
- Grease a 9x13 inch pan and preheat the oven to 325. (If you want to use a smaller pan, just cut down the ingredients accordingly.) Press the dough into the pan until smooth and flat. Set in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, just to set the dough.
- Now for the curd. Prepare a double boiler with 1-2 inches of water. Place on high heat and wait until the water boils. Once the water comes to a boil, set it to a simmer.
- Next, combine the egg yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt in a heatproof bowl that can sit on top of a double boiler.
- Whisk until the items are fully blended and then place on top of the double boiler. Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes thick, about 10 minutes. Make sure to keep a consistent whisk, or else the eggs will curdle. When the liquid thickens, it should have a texture similar to a hollandaise sauce.
- Once the liquid is thick, remove it from the heat. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and carefully insert one piece at a time. Stir until each piece is melted.
- Take the shortbread out of the oven and place the curd mixture on top of the curst. Make sure it is covering all edges. Place the shortbread back in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the curd on top is set.
- Once cooled, add powdered sugar and enjoy!
Switch it up! The shortbread bars are the perfect base for any type of citrus curd. They easily can be layered with fresh fruit in the summer or crisp apples in the fall.
The curd can be enjoyed on its own! It is perfect as a spread or just out of the jar.
Pro Tip! The shortbread base can be made ahead of time. Once the dough is mixed together, let it sit in the freezer overnight. As you are preparing the curd, take the dough out of the freezer to defrost.