Creamy and Mildly Sweet Blood Orange Bars with a Smooth Blend of Bourbon and Vanilla Notes over a Generous Graham Cracker Crust. Try saying no to a second serving!
It’s not often I make bars, I’m more of a cake-type of person, but when citrus season is here, I’m all over it! I have a go-to recipe started a few years back with these Lemon Lime Bars and since then I’ve adapted the original recipe to create this surprisingly delicious Cardamom Oat Blood Orange Tart with minor twists. Today, I bring the bars back with the mild sweet taste of blood oranges and one of my favorite spirits of choice, bourbon!
Who knew blood orange and bourbon pair amazingly well together?! Inspired by a cocktail, I couldn’t help but combine these two with vanilla to create a fresh new dimension of flavor. Right from the start while making the graham cracker crust, the rich smell of creamy butter overcomes your senses and it only gets better from here.
Upon baking, the bars give off an aromatic scent of vanilla, bourbon and yes, can’t forget, that butter! As the first bite is taken, you’re then surprised with the warmth of vanilla and a trace of bourbon melded with the sweet taste of blood orange and a mild citrus tang. Emphasis on mild as opposed to a strong zing as most citrus fruits exude.
Furthermore, an aesthetic detail I love with blood oranges, is the gorgeous natural pink color from its juice. Although every now and then, there’s nothing wrong with a little added food coloring, I would prefer to keep foods as natural as possible and this glaze is just that!
The bars are very easy to make. The only drawback is waiting for it to cool to room temp and then chill in the fridge for 4 hours until set. I’m just too impatient. Working on it though!
However, cut these bars while still warm and you will have a creamy mess and not a bar to grab. If there is one dessert that gets better as it sits, this is the one. A great recipe to make the night before if you’re looking to have something ready to go the next day.
Give these a go while blood oranges are still in season and when possible, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. : )Print
1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons (113 grams) finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
5 tablespoons (70.6 grams) unsalted butter, melted
3 large egg yolks
3 1/2 teaspoons blood orange zest, grated and separated
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) blood orange juice, strained with pulp and seeds removed
2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) bourbon
1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla bean paste or extract
1 can (14 oz or 414 milliliters) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 blood orange, thinly sliced into quarters (optional)
BLOOD ORANGE GLAZE
20 tablespoons (115 grams) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) blood orange juice, strained with pulp and seeds removed
VANILLA WHIPPED CREAM
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) chilled heavy cream
1 – 2 tablespoons (6 – 12 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 milliliters) vanilla bean paste or extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil leaving excess foil to hang over two opposite sides for easy removal.
In a small bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared lined baking pan. Use the back of a measuring cup to firmly press crumbs together.
Bake for 10 minutes or until dry and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow crust to cool in pan over a wire rack. Crust may rise slightly during baking but will flatten upon cooling. Leave the oven on.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, whisk on high speed the egg yolks and 3 teaspoons of blood orange zest to thicken, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, continue mixing. Increase speed to high and beat until thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add blood orange juice, bourbon and vanilla, continue to mix until just combined. Pour filling evenly over the crust.
Bake for 40 minutes or until filling is just set. Filling is set when you lightly touch the center of the baked custard and it is dry, a slight jiggle is okay. Allow to cool completely to room temperature over a wire rack before removing the custard from the pan. Refrigerate covered at least 4 hours or overnight.
BLOOD ORANGE GLAZE
In a small bowl whisk powdered sugar and blood orange juice together until smooth. Glaze should be thick and form a stream of ribbons when a spoon of the mixture falls slowly from the spoon and holds shape above the mixture for up to 30 seconds.
VANILLA WHIPPED CREAM
In a large chilled bowl using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat heavy cream, 1 tablespoon (6 grams) of powdered sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Taste, add an additional tablespoon of powdered sugar if needed and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Place a dollop of whipped cream over each bar or fill a piping (pastry) bag fitted with a closed star tip (I used Wilton 1B). Garnish bars with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of blood orange zest and sliced quarters of blood orange over whipped cream. Cut custard into 2-inch squares. Serve chilled and ENJOY!
There are 1/4 to 1/3 cup (60 to 75 milliliters) of juice per blood orange.
- Cuisine: American