Key to making grapefruit squares is in the zest

  • By Leah Eskin Chicago Tribune
  • Thursday, April 24, 2014 3:13pm
  • Life

Grapefruit, love child of an orange/pomelo hookup, flaunts one parent’s sunny nature and the other’s thick-skinned, rotund ways. The hybrid is all sunny bright, easy-peel, sweet and sour cheer. That’s how it rolls.

And yet, I contrived to press grapefruit flat, to square it off into lemon-bar portability.

I squeezed and mixed and baked. Yielding something sweet, soured by a whiff of fruitcake. In another word: bad.

After many yellow squares and many square yellow leftovers, I was visited by a revelation. Fresh grapefruit: good. Cooked grapefruit: bad.

So I reformatted my bars, confining grapefruit to a fresh zest finish. Which worked. The bars sliced up lemon bold, grapefruit fresh, sunshine sweet. Score another for hybrid vigor.

Sunshine bars

  • 3 cups sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 3 grapefruits
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained (from about 8 lemons)
  • 6 eggs

Buzz: Measure sugar into the food processor. Drop in grapefruit zest. Buzz to a fine grapefruit-scented powder, about 1 minute. Scoop 1/4 cup scented sugar into a small bowl; set aside. Scoop 2 1/4 cups scented sugar into a large mixing bowl; set aside.

Combine: Measure 1 1/2 cups flour and the salt into the remaining 1/2 cup scented sugar in the food processor. Buzz to combine. Drop in butter. Pulse many times. Mixture will look like fine sand, then coarse sand, then big clumps.

Pat: Dump clumps into a 13-x-9-inch baking pan. Pat into the bottom of the pan. Slide into a 325-degree oven and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

Whisk: Meanwhile, whisk remaining 1/2 cup flour into the scented sugar in the large mixing bowl. Whisk in juice. Whisk in eggs.

Bake: When pastry is golden, lower oven temperature to 300 degrees. Pour egg mixture over pastry and bake until center is just set, about 30 minutes. Pull pan out of oven.

Gild: Spread remaining 1/4 cup scented sugar over the top. Cool. Chill. Cut into 48 bars.

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