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Raspberry Blood Orange Bars

February 13, 2014

Raspberry Blood Orange BarsPin it!

Can it be? It’s the day before Valentine’s Day and I am actually posting something appropriately sweet! (And pink and red!)

Nothing chocolatey though, since I like tangy fruit desserts even better than chocolate ones. (Good thing every other food blog out there has got you covered…)

And no, I’m probably not going to start being on top of themed holiday posts all year round; I didn’t even intend for these to be Valentine’s-y… I made them last week, for Paula’s birthday.

Raspberry Blood Orange BarsPin it!

At first she requested the same zesty lemon lime bars I made for her birthday last year. But then she changed her mind and asked for blood orange bars. This would have been easy enough to accommodate, since it’s just swapping in a different kind of citrus juice… until she also asked me to add raspberries. An inspired flavor and color combination, to be sure, but I was at a loss as to how to do it.

Juicing blood oranges and lemons for Raspberry Blood Orange Bars

Luckily, it only took two batches to figure it out. (And while the first failed version was not remotely photogenic enough to be shown here; both were delicious.)

Raspberry Blood Orange BarsPin it!

For attempt #1, I assembled all the ingredients for each layer, and stuck the crust in the oven. When it came time to add the raspberries, I simply scattered a layer of frozen whole raspberries—dusted with sugar and flour—on top of the crust, and for some reason (hunger? impatience? denial?) I assumed that pouring the raw citrus-curd topping over the top of the raspberries would result in nice separate layers.

Raspberry Blood Orange BarsPin it!

Instead, the liquidy mixture of blood orange juice, lemon, sugar, and eggs immediately swirled under and around the raspberries. The watery topping took ages to firm up—more than double lemon bars’ usual baking time.

Cooking frozen raspberries for Raspberry Blood Orange Bars

It was also not as pretty as you might think: I’d used frozen rather than fresh raspberries, some of which were smushed and broken, so the ice still clinging to the raspberries diluted the bright pink of the blood orange curd to a duller, faded color, and there were splotchy yellow lemon/egg swirls around the bashed up raspberry bits.

Juicing blood oranges and lemons for Raspberry Blood Orange Bars

Needless to say, I didn’t take photos.

Also needless to say, it still tasted good! (Even though I’d also added way too much sugar…)

So let me make a long story short a little less long and say that the second batch was perfection.

Spreading out the raspberry layer of Raspberry Blood Orange Bars

I knew the raspberry layer would need to keep to itself, so I simmered the frozen raspberries in a saucepan for a few minutes until they gelled and thickened, then I gave that layer its own 10 minutes of baking time before pouring over the citrusy topping and putting it back in the oven.

Raspberry Blood Orange Bars Pin it!

The vibrant bars are gooey and sweet. They’re not as tart as the lemon lime bars thanks to the sugary blood orange juice, but I added some lemon juice and used less sugar the second time to make them a little less saccharine. The thick raspberry layer adds a nice tartness and textural contrast.

Raspberry Blood Orange Bars

The red and pink layers pretty much kept to themselves, except in a few spots around the edges. The few remaining hints of yellow, and the rogue bubbles of deep red raspberry, were nothing that couldn’t be covered up by a light sprinkling of powdered sugar on top.

Raspberry Blood Orange Bars Pin it!

I’m pretty proud of this recipe—even though the idea was all Paula’s—since I don’t often invent or experiment with baked desserts; I’m much more of a cook than a baker. These are the prettiest, tastiest treats I’ve whipped up in a while. I plan to keep making them until the blood oranges disappear for the season; and I look forward to eating them in winters to come.

Raspberry Blood Orange Bars Pin it!

Happy Valentine’s Day if you’re celebrating!
(And happy Anna Howard Shaw Day if you’re a 30 Rock fan!)

Raspberry Blood Orange Bars Pin it.

Print this recipe. (PDF)

RECIPE:

Raspberry Blood Orange Bars
(Adapted from Zesty Lemon Lime Bars, which were adapted from “Pure Dessert” by Alice Medrich.)

(Makes 16 small square bars)

Active time: 45 minutes; Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes.

Crust Ingredients:
~ 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
~ ¼ cup sugar
~ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
~ ¼ tsp. salt
~ 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. flour

Raspberry Layer:
~ 12 oz. frozen raspberries
~ 2 Tbsp. flour
~ 1 Tbsp. sugar
~ 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Blood Orange Topping Ingredients:
~ ¾ cup sugar
~ 3 Tbsp. flour
~ 3 large eggs, whisked well until smooth
~ ½ cup strained fresh blood orange juice (from 5-6 small or 2-3 large oranges)
~ 2 Tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice (from ½ a lemon)
OPTIONAL:
~ powdered sugar, for dusting

How to make it:

1. Move an oven rack to the lower third of the oven, and pre-heat to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or foil.

2. Make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until this mixture is smooth, then fold in the flour with a rubber spatula until just mixed. Press the dough across the bottom of the baking dish—it will be thin, and might take a little time to cover the entire pan evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the crust is starting to brown at the edges and in the center.

Making the crust for Raspberry Blood Orange Bars             Making the crust for Raspberry Blood Orange Bars

3. While the crust is baking, cook the raspberries: In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the raspberries, flour, sugar, and lemon juice. Cook for 10-15 minutes total, turning the heat up to medium once the raspberries have started to release some liquid, and turning the heat up to medium-high for the last 3-4 minutes, to simmer and thicken the raspberries. They are done when you can see a clear path after dragging a spoon across the bottom of the pan, even if only for a moment. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. When the crust is ready, remove from the oven and pour over the cooked raspberries. Evenly spread out the raspberries with a rubber spatula, then return to the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the raspberry layer looks glossy and firm.

Finished simmering: the raspberry filling for Raspberry Blood Orange Bars             Mixing together the blood orange filling for Raspberry Blood Orange Bars

5. Meanwhile, make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour, then whisk in the eggs. Stir in the strained blood orange/lemon juice.

6. When the raspberry layer is done baking, turn the oven down to 325 degrees. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let stand for 2-5 minutes (so the raspberry layer can continue to firm up) before pouring the blood orange filling over it. Bake for another 25 minutes, or until the topping no longer jiggles in the center when you tap the side of the pan.

7. Let cool completely in the baking dish, set on a cooling rack. Then lift up the parchment and transfer to a cutting board. Use a long, sharp knife to cut the bars into 16 squares. The bars can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Optionally dust with powdered sugar just before serving (but don’t dust with powdered sugar if you’re making them ahead of time; the sugar will dissolve into the tops of the bars, and you won’t be able to see it).

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Raspberry Blood Orange Bars Pin it!

Related recipe posts:

Blood Orange Tart Zesty Lemon Lime Bars Cara Cara Orange Chocolate Cake Raspberry Chocolate Tart with Coconut Crust
Blood Orange Tart Zesty Lemon Lime Bars Cara Cara Orange Chocolate Cake Raspberry Chocolate Tart with Coconut Crust
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73 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2014 9:29 am

    Oh my goodness, these loo so good!!!! I love citrus bars, but have never tried blood orange ones!

    • February 13, 2014 9:49 am

      Thanks, Liz! I know; I had never tried blood orange bars before either, but I figured it couldn’t be that different from the blood orange tart that I made a while back (even though these turned out to be a totally different color!).

  2. February 13, 2014 9:30 am

    Oh my, that looks delicious!!!!!!! NOW, all I have to do is find blood oranges in February in Quebec City! :-P

    • February 13, 2014 9:50 am

      Thank you! Oh man, I hope I haven’t gotten your hopes up for making something that you can’t find the ingredients for… there have to be blood oranges *somewhere* in Quebec City, right? (Although they’ll definitely have quite the carbon footprint from traveling all the way there… maybe from California!)

      • February 13, 2014 9:52 am

        A lot of stuff has a footprint in winter, so we compensate by going completely locavore for the growing months. We also have our own plots (800 sq.ft) behind the house and a lot of canning for winter. We do what we can!

        Oh, I’ll FIND blood oranges! LOL!

      • February 13, 2014 9:58 am

        That’s awesome! (And impressive!) Good luck on your quest for blood oranges! :)

  3. February 13, 2014 9:36 am

    Gah! This is beautiful! I’ve been wanting to make passion fruit bars for a while. I think it would be easy to swap out that puree in place of the orange recipe. Not to mention passion fruit + raspberry = win.

    Happy Valentine’s day! (almost)

    • February 13, 2014 9:52 am

      Thanks, Karla! Passion fruit + raspberry does sound good together, and I’m sure that would be a pretty color combination!! Happy almost Valentine’s day to you, too. :)

  4. February 13, 2014 9:44 am

    Looks amazing! I love the colours

  5. February 13, 2014 10:00 am

    Gorgeous recipe Alison, I love the colour, zesty nature, depth and of course that that they are sweet. X

  6. danguole permalink
    February 13, 2014 10:08 am

    Lovely! Blood oranges and raspberries are a match made in heaven. And I’m so with you–I managed to do a couple V-Day posts on time, but that will probably never happen again!

    And happy Anna Howard Shaw day to you and Paula! Cheers!

  7. February 13, 2014 11:52 am

    Yesssss! Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day to you, too!! I wish there were a Jack Donnaghy compilation of greatest moments like there is for the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey. I’d keep it on loop.

    • February 14, 2014 5:26 pm

      Haha, yes, there needs to be a Jack & Liz moments compilation, too. (There probably is already, but finding it would run the risk of getting sucked into a youtube vortex…) Also, a compilation of Liz Lemon talking about food.

  8. February 13, 2014 11:58 am

    So gorgeous! I love the colors in these bars – they’ve got a natural ombre effect going on! I’m going to have to try harder in my search to find blood oranges, because I need these bars in my life.

    • February 14, 2014 5:30 pm

      Thank you! They do have an ombre effect—I hadn’t thought of it like that.

      I think everyone who loves citrus needs these bars in their life. (My sister’s planning to make these, maybe this weekend, with lemons instead of blood oranges, so there’s always that possibility, too, if you can’t find blood oranges… I’d increase the sugar a bit in the topping though, like to 1 cup.)

  9. February 13, 2014 11:59 am

    These look grrrrrrrrreat!

  10. February 13, 2014 1:37 pm

    Boy, these look incredible. I love blood orange, especially because it’s less sweet than regular orange. Great post – also appreciated the link back to the tart lemon-lim bars, which I hadn’t seen. Thanks.

    • February 14, 2014 5:45 pm

      Thanks for commenting! I love blood oranges, too. These were still much sweeter than the lemon lime bars, even after I reduced the sugar from that recipe, but I do think the blood orange gave it more tartness (and a more vibrant color!) than if I’d used another kind of orange. Anyway, I was very happy with how they turned out. :) (Especially after the failure of the first batch!)

  11. February 13, 2014 2:53 pm

    Such a beautiful colour and flavour, lovely recipe :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  12. February 13, 2014 3:17 pm

    These look fantastic!

  13. February 13, 2014 4:57 pm

    Oh my gosh… my mouth is watering. I will definitely be making these!

  14. February 13, 2014 6:52 pm

    Gorgeous! Can’t wait to try these!

  15. February 13, 2014 7:17 pm

    For some reason I read ruby grapefruit the whole way through your recipe. Well, it is one of my favourite citrus. Hmm, now I have that with raspberries in my head! Actually, I’ve never had a citrus bar. And your lemon bars were the first I’d heard of them. Those might be a better bet to try out as even ruby grapefruit would be difficult to find here. Maybe over the weekend as I’ve just made my first lemon cheesecake tonight! What it’s going to taste like…

    • February 14, 2014 5:56 pm

      Wow, you never had a citrus bar but you love ruby grapefruit? You should definitely try something like these, or lemon/lime bars, or just regular lemon bars, sometime soon; they are one of my favorite types of desserts, ever! (And I kind of want to make a grapefruit version, too, now that you put the idea in my head…)

      Your lemon cheesecake sounds intriguing and delicious, too… I am a sucker for all citrusy desserts! :)

  16. February 13, 2014 8:06 pm

    My mouth is watering too! Amazing Allison, simply amazing!

  17. February 13, 2014 9:18 pm

    Omg, this looks sooo good. Can’t wait to try these!

  18. February 14, 2014 2:39 am

    wow, amazing. in awe.

  19. February 14, 2014 2:43 am

    I like it so much!!! May I have a piece?`:) Not, but it looks awesome!

  20. February 14, 2014 3:18 pm

    These look amazing and I can’t wait to try them out!

  21. February 14, 2014 8:19 pm

    OMG this is serious gorgeousness. I just had a few blood oranges because they’re so beautiful and so delicious. These bars look incredible! Great bday recipe and perfect timing for V day!

    • February 16, 2014 10:26 am

      Thanks, Amanda! Yeah I don’t think we’ll be limiting this recipe to Valentine’s day or birthdays around here, but I guess it’s naturally limited by when blood oranges are in season… I love blood oranges so much; I think this is a perfect way to enjoy them while they last.

  22. February 15, 2014 12:33 am

    Oh my, Allison these are gorgeous!!!! Absolutely, positively stunning. Love the glazed top and the gorgeous fruity layers… divine. Definitely going to make these. Very soon. Yum!!! Hope that you and Paula had a fantastic Valentine’s day xxx

    • February 16, 2014 10:27 am

      Thanks!! I’m so happy to hear that you plan to make these! Let me know how you like them. :) Hope you had a fantastic Valentine’s day, too!

  23. February 15, 2014 1:36 am

    These look amazing!!! Oh god I need to quit my job so I have time to try all your recipes!

    • February 16, 2014 10:30 am

      Thanks!! I know the feeling, and I don’t even have a full time job, since I’m a grad student right now… there are just SO MANY recipes; so little time to try them. (Guess you’ll just have to pick and choose which ones you try!)

  24. February 15, 2014 5:01 am

    What the what?! These are inspired! What a perfect combination of flavours. I will be thinking of these when I am at work today, because they are more interesting than kids doing ballet.

    • February 16, 2014 10:31 am

      I don’t know if you were intentionally trying to quote Liz Lemon but your comment just made my day. (Especially since you are way more of an impressive and inspired baker of sweets than I will ever be!)

  25. February 15, 2014 5:47 am

    I love this combination – such a great idea!

  26. February 15, 2014 6:28 am

    These look so delicious!

  27. February 15, 2014 3:02 pm

    Oh my gosh. These look so, so good. And I can just imagine how beautiful the flavor combination is. Drool…. Fantastic, Allison.

  28. February 16, 2014 3:37 pm

    These bars look incredible, and I will be making them as soon as I can get my hands on some blood oranges! Thanks for experimenting and sharing your delicious, delicious success. :D

  29. February 17, 2014 8:24 am

    those bars are stunning! I could eat those all day long…what a lovely flavor one/two punch there. Hope you had a lovely valentine’s day!

  30. afracooking permalink
    February 18, 2014 9:43 am

    What a great alterntive to those standard chocolate valentine’s treats. Fabulous!

    • February 18, 2014 5:55 pm

      Thanks! I know; it wasn’t my intention to make these for Valentine’s day, but it’s true that chocolate’s a little overdone, and these were a welcome, refreshing change from that!

  31. February 18, 2014 2:24 pm

    Darn, I wish I would have made these for Valentine’s! Oh, well, I’m sure these are perfect for any time of the year, right?

    • February 18, 2014 5:55 pm

      Right, Tess! They’re too good to only make/eat them on Valentine’s Day! (I would make & eat them all year round if it weren’t so tricky to find blood oranges in other seasons…)

  32. February 28, 2014 10:10 pm

    yum! I am never too into making sweets but really want to try them. I think my mom will love them, since lemon bars are her fave. thanks!

    • March 1, 2014 8:35 pm

      Yay, you’re welcome! I hope you and your mom both enjoy them! Since lemon bars are her favorite (and they’re mine too actually, even more than these probably…) you might also want to check out my lemon/lime bar recipe. Citrus bars are one type of sweet that is definitely worth making!! :)

  33. March 6, 2014 4:46 am

    blood oranges are scandalously underused in baking. Love your recipe!

    • March 6, 2014 9:40 am

      Thank you! I agree! I’ve found you can use them in almost any recipe that calls for lemon and/or lime (and I love citrus recipes…) as long as you reduce the sugar a little bit, since blood oranges can be kind of sweet. :)

  34. March 8, 2014 7:48 pm

    I so want to try these!

  35. March 20, 2014 8:04 am

    Allison These are Gorgeous!!! Please consider submitting them for #ThursdayTweetTreats on http://foodisloverecipes.com/submit-your-recipe.html

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