I’m on a constant quest for the perfect lemon square. I love the combination of tart and sweet. Now, this recipe is a mix of citrus fruits so it’s not technically the perfect lemon square. But I was drawn to it because it uses blood oranges, which are so pretty and tasty. This recipe is sweet, just a bit tart, and has a nice blend of yellow and pink colors. I think it’s the perfect non-traditional Valentine’s Day dessert.
The reason it’s perfect is because of the balance of tart and sweet. I think it mirrors the opposite ways people feel about this holiday. Some people are very anti-Valentine’s Day and some people love all the decorations, chocolates, and flowers. I’m lucky that Ryan is so accommodating because I both dislike and want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, all at the same time. Yes, I think going out to a fancy dinner is an important thing for couples to do, but why do I have to go out when it’s going to be crowded with an over priced prix fixe menu? So he took me out last week to a place I really really wanted to go, even though it was in Bethesda. And he buys me flowers because even though I don’t want fancy plans, I want pretty red roses that make me feel girly. So, I want it both ways and that’s why citrus squares are perfect.
This dessert isn’t heart shaped, but it is a little pink. It’s sweet, but it’s not chocolate. And it’s tart enough to fly in the face of a traditional Valentine’s Day. Use two forks to make it a romantic treat.
This recipe is adapted from Sweetly Serendipity. You want 1 cup total of citrus juice. You might not get exactly 1/2 cup from 3 blood oranges, or 1/4 cup from one lime, but use a combination of lemons, limes, and oranges and you’ll get enough a juice.
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar (you can add up to 1 cup more if you like it really sweet)
3-4 blood oranges (zest from 3 oranges, and squeeze 1/2 cup of juice)
1 lemon (zest and 1/4 cup of juice)
1-2 lime (zest from 1 lime and 1/4 cup of juice)
1 cup all-purpose flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Start with the crust. Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. I like to do it for about 2 minutes.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then slowly add the flour mixture to the butter. Combine until just mixed.
4. Flour your hands and gather the dough into a rough ball. Place in the center of a 9×13″ baking pan. Use your hands to press the dough into the bottom of the hand. Keep flouring your hands as the dough begins to stick to you.
5. Put in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes. Use these 20 minutes to zest and juice your oranges, lemon, and limes. You’ll end up with tri-color zest and some gorgeous dark pink juice.
6. Bake the crust for 15-20 minuets, until it is very lightly browned. Take out and let cool for 5 minutes before adding the filling.
7. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, zest, juice, and flour. Whisk until it is fully combined.
8. Pour the filling over the crust. Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is set. My oven runs hot so the filling was set in 25 minutes.
9. Let cool to room temperature and then sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
Messy level: The messiest part of this recipe is preparing the zest and the juice. I had zest, juice, and seeds everywhere. Part of the reason was that I didn’t give myself enough space to work and I knocked something over, which then hit my little juice, which then spilled everywhere. But it’s also dirty because my hands were covered in sticky juice and the fruit oils. My hands also turned orange from working with so much citrus. The good part though, was the whole apartment ended up smelling like fruit.