Small Batch Blood Orange Bars baked in a loaf pan are a twist on classic lemon bars with a melt-in-your-mouth buttery crust and a creamy orange filling. Make them before blood orange season is gone!
I have a love-hate relationship with citrus. I don’t like snacking on navel oranges (zest and juice in recipes are fine) but enjoy clementines. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors. Limes are eh, and I’m not a fan of lemon lime pop. I do love eating grapefruit for breakfast when they’re in season. But once I see blood oranges? I go crazy. Slightly more bitter yet less acidic than a regular orange but also sweet with a hint of raspberry. Their season ranges from December to May, depending on the type of blood orange you want. The particular kind I like is only available until March, so once blood oranges are in stores, I stock up.
In addition to snacking on them, I love baking with them. These Blood Orange Bars are a twist on classic lemon bars. They have a melt-in-your-mouth buttery crust with a soft jelly-like orange filling. The top naturally cracks when cut, giving them a slightly rustic look. For presentation they are dusted with powdered sugar. The bright red color does bake off, but I promise it’s packed full of flavor.
The first time I had a blood orange was down in the Bahamas during college. I was on a trip with the geology department (the only reason I took my oceanography class), so we were on a pretty remote island with probably only 1000 residents. They were researching while I was, um, helping. During one of our hikes, we found some blood orange trees so we stopped for a snack. I didn’t think much about them until I saw them during my first trip to Whole Foods a few months later.
There are several types of blood oranges. The deep red color we all associate with blood oranges is called moro, which is available from December to March. They usually have a red-orange peel, but it’s not always the case. Because they are usually imported, you want to look for the moro sticker to ensure you have a ruby red color inside. Other varieties have a similar taste but may lack in color.
Warning – blood oranges are messy. Once you cut and juice them, you may be questioned about the murder scene in your kitchen. The juice can stain, so wear an apron and don’t expect clean hands. Wipe up any juice while it’s still wet.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
- 1 whole egg, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon blood orange zest
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from 1-2 oranges)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan then line with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a large food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter and pulse until butter is finely cut into the flour, looking dry and powdery. Resist adding any liquid.
- Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan and pat evenly into the bottom. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, and both sugars until sugar dissolves and mixture looks pale yellow. Try not to whisk too much air into it. Whisk in the flour and baking powder then the zest and juice.
- Once the crust has finished baking, turn the temperature down to 325F. Immediately pour the filling over the hot crust and put back in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set and golden brown (it may slightly wiggle but top should be solid when touched).
- Cool in the pan for 30 minutes then carefully remove and transfer to a wire rack. Cool until room temperature.
- Dust with powdered sugar then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares.
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Photos and recipe updated 2/15/17