We're all ready for spring. And while you're probably noticing linens and pastels in the shop windows lately, you're not seeing spring fruit popping up in great quantities quite yet. But last week at the farmer's market I discovered the pomelo, and I couldn't resist the urge to create a special citrus bar that places this new favorite winter fruit front and center.
If you're not familiar with pomelos, they're larger than a grapefruit but similar in color on the inside. However, they taste much sweeter than a grapefruit &mdash almost like a mix between a Meyer lemon and a tart orange. While they do have quite a bit of rind and pith to navigate, they're wonderful to eat alone for breakfast and as I've discovered this past week, even better when made into a bright, citrus dessert.
This recipe really is as simple as putting together an easy curd made largely with egg yolks and pomelo juice. Rose Levy Bernbaum uses this smart method with her lemon bars and I've adopted it here. She prefers to cook the filling and make a curd before pouring it onto the crust to combat the soggy factor that sometimes can happen with lemon bars.
After you make your pomelo curd, you simply pour it atop a buttery shortbread crust.
Simple, they are. Relatively quick &mdash they're that, too. What they're not are the ooey, goeey lemon bars you often find at coffeshops and grocery stores. The pomelo juice gives them a different flavor, and I've taken down the quantity of sugar quite a bit, so you're getting a slightly tart bar rather than an over-the-top sweet confection. They're also only about 1/2" tall: perfect to have with tea or for a light early spring dessert.
If you'd like to mix pomelo juice and Meyer lemon juice or another favorite citrus instead of relying solely on pomelo, do so by all means. The meyer lemon zest, however, I wouldn't play with. It's perfectly fragrant and adds a grace to these bars that other citrus just can't.
Serves 9 (small, 2 to 3 inch squares)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup pomelo juice (1.5 large pomelos)
zest from 1 Meyer lemon
5 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, to top
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
To make the shortbread crust, whisk together both sugars in a small prep bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer or using electric beaters, cream the butter with the sugars for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Add 3/4 cup flour and mix until blended. Add the remainder of the flour and mix again until just incorporated. Butter an 8 x 8 pan and sprinkle with flour. Turn upside down over the sink to eliminate any extra flour. Press dough into the greased pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just turn golden brown. It's o.k. if the center is still pale white.
To make the pomelo filling, use a wooden spoon to beat the egg yolks and the sugars in a medium-sized aluminum saucepan (do use aluminum as other cookware will react negatively with the egg yolks and can turn your curd an unpleasant color). Stir in the pomelo juice and butter and turn on the burner to medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly for about 8 minutes or until it thickens just enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Your mixture should never come to a full boil if you're stirring constantly. You want to avoid this for risk of curdling.
When the pomelo curd is thick enough to coat your wooden spoon, remove from the heat source and pour through a strainer to remove chunkier particles that will inevitably develop. Stir in the meyer lemon zest, and give it a quick stir.
Once the shortbread crust is fully baked, take it out of the oven and lower the oven temperature to 300 F. Pour the pomelo curd on top of the crust, and use a spatula to make sure it's covering each nook and cranny. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes or until the filling looks set but still slightly wiggles.
Cool the pomelo bars in the pan for at least one hour. Dust with sifted powdered sugar and slice.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
(Images: Megan Gordon)