When I was growing up there were two kinds of oranges, eating oranges from California, and juice oranges from Florida. Now when I survey the display of citrus fruits in the market, the variety of oranges is mind-boggling. So each week when I grocery shop, I buy a different kind of orange, just so I can try them all and learn the differences between them.
My last shopping trip resulted in my bringing home Blood Oranges. The color of the flesh of these oranges is deep red/maroon and the juice is dark pink. The flavor is hard to describe, but seems almost to have a cranberry flavor mixed with the orange. Besides simply eating them, I wanted to capture that flavor in something baked. So I turned to this recipe for cookie bars that uses orange juice and zest in the filling that is baked on a sugar cookie crust. The juice from the Blood oranges gave the filling a soft pink color that is quite attractive, and the flavor is intense.
I really liked the texture of these bars; the filling is soft and chewy while the base is firm sugar cookie. A nice contrast. Chopped hazelnuts provide some crunch and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar is all that’s needed to get them ready for serving.
On a personal note: I found these bars to be a little too sweet. In making them again, I would use less sugar because there is sweetness in the cookie base, plus corn syrup and white sugar in the filling. My feeling is that you could reduce the sugar by half and thereby let the orange flavor become even more prominent.
ORANGEBURST COOKIE BARS
Yield: about 24 bars
- 1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (almonds are a good substitute)
- 1/2 cup sugar ( you could use as little as 1/4 cup)
- 5 tsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 2-3 tsp. orange zest
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly spray a 13×9-inch pan.
2. Cut cookie dough into 1/2-inch slices. Line button of pan with the cookie slices, and using fingers press together and flatten evenly to form a bottom crust.
Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the nuts, and press into the dough. Bake 12 – 15 minutes until dough is puffed.
3. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, mix sugar and flour. With a whisk mix in the corn syrup and remaining ingredients (except powdered sugar). Stir in remaining 1/4 cup nuts.
4. Carefully pour the filling over the partially baked crust.
5. Return to oven and bake 18 – 23 minutes till edges are brown and filling is set.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars. Makes 24 bars.
SOURCE: Pillsbury Christmas, 2011