Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pomelo Bars

After last year’s bumper crop of Meyer lemons, our lemon tree was looking a bit worse for wear! So in the spring, instead of giving it fertilizer meant to boost fruit production, I gave it fertilizer meant to help its overall health. The result is indeed a much healthier-looking tree this year, and I’m glad I gave it a break. It only yielded a single Meyer lemon, but it’s like it poured everything it had into that one fruit: it was big, bright and juicy. I’ve pictured it in my hand and next to a Eureka lemon, for scale. I couldn’t do much with just one lemon, no matter how beautiful it was, so I decided to combine it with some pomelo and make these pomelo bars. The result was lovely, and a nice change from the usual tart lemon bars. I also like the method of making a curd before assembling the bars, to make sure they set up nicely without getting the crust soggy! These were a hit with our family.

Note that the recipe calls for the juice of one and a half large pomelos, but with the behemoths I had, I only needed half of one for the bars! Next time, I’ll just buy one pomelo and top it up with Meyer lemon juice if needed.

For the shortbread crust
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

For the pomelo filling
6 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup pomelo juice (about 1.5 large pomelos; see note above)
zest from 1 Meyer lemon
5 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar, to top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Butter an 8”-square pan and dust with flour.

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 ¾ cup flour and mix until blended. Add the remainder of the flour and mix again until just incorporated. Press dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just turn golden brown (it's alright if the center is still pale white).

To make the pomelo filling, use a wooden spoon to beat the egg yolks and the sugar 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, slice and serve.

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