Citrus Shortbread Bars

This weekend was my daughter’s prom. She and her friends were so excited they could hardly wait, so we decided to have a girls only pre-prom parade and tea party at our house where they could show off their dresses. I set the table with my English tea set and made some of my daughter’s favorite treats. She specifically requested these citrus shortbread bars, along with cinnamon savoiardi, pecan bars, pudding, mixed berry salad, and chocolate cake squares. It was so much fun to have the girls over for a fancy evening, and it was even more fun to attend promenade last night and see all the girls in beautiful gowns with their handsome dates.

There are many recipes for lemon or lime bars online. I think the key to exceptionally good flavor is to use the small sweet limes available in Mexican markets rather than large Persian limes. I like to microwave them for a minute to help warm and release the juice. (You can also use orange, blood orange, or Meyer lemon juice instead.)

Citrus Shortbread Bars

Shortbread Base
2 c. flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. lime zest
1 c. cold unsalted butter, diced

Citrus Filling
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. sweet lime zest
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. fresh sweet lime juice (you will need 7-10 small, sweet limes)
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
2-3 drops vanilla extract
1 drop green or blue food coloring (optional)
powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the shortbread base combine in a food processor the flour, powdered sugar, salt, and citrus zest. Pulse to mix, then add diced butter and pulse again to form pea-size bits of butter, but not so much as to bring it into a dough; it should still be powdery. Pour the mixture into a 9×13 pan and pat down slightly. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just barely set and lightly golden around the very edges. While the shortbread base is baking make the filling. In a bowl beat eggs then add sugar and mix. Add citrus zest and juice, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well mixed. Add vanilla and 1 drop of food coloring. Stir to thoroughly mix. Pour onto pre-baked shortbread crust. Return to the oven for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set and beginning to brown. Cool on rack. Keep refrigerated. When ready to serve cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 30 squares.

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