Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Triple Citrus Bars

My mom had to make a dessert for a potluck cookout earlier this month and she chose to make these bars. I helped out a little and took some pictures to document the process. In the past several years, whenever I'm around I am usually the one to make the dessert or the salad or whatever else is needed, so it was nice to see my mom back in the kitchen making her own dessert (although, it makes me want to jump right in and make my own too!). It was fun to double team these yummy bars, sharing the excitement of preparing a beautiful dish.

If you are looking for a light, fresh and citrusy dessert this summer, this is the bar for you. It was the perfect choice for an outdoor party by the pool. They weren't too difficult to make and they are a nice twist on the traditional lemon or lime bars. I enjoyed the three kinds of fruits and the beautiful flavors and color they added to the bars. The buttery, sandy crust is a nice contrast to the smooth and tart citrus filling. And the best part, they can be made the night before and chilled in the fridge overnight. It doesn't get much better than that! Overall, a fresh and satisfying dessert for a hot summer night.

Fresh and tart, a refreshing dessert

All the fruit, ready and waiting

Graham crackers for the crust

Crush them up and add some butter

All mixed and ready for the pan

The prepared pans, we made a double batch

Pour the crumbs into the pan

Press and bake!

Get the filling ready, start with the cream cheese and zest

Then the juice

Ready to go

Grab an egg yolk

Once it's all together, pour into the pans,
it's as easy as that!

Cut and ready to eat


Triple Citrus Bars
from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
  • 5 ounces animal crackers (I didn't have any so I used graham crackers and they turned out just fine) 
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • Pinch of table salt 
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled 
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest 
  • Pinch of table salt 
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice 
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.

For the crust: pulse crackers in food processor until fine (about 10 seconds), you should have about 1 1/4 cups of crumbs. Add the brown sugar and salt, process to combine. Drizzle butter over the crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter. Press the buttered crumbs firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until deep golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling: In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, zest and salt with a spatula until softened, creamy and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk until smooth and completely incorporated. Whisk in the egg yolk. Add the lime, lemon and orange juice and whisk gently to incorporate (the mixture should thickened slightly).

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and spread to corners, smoothing the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake until the filling is set and the edges begin to pull away slightly from the sides, 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, 1-1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least two hours.

Lift the bars from the pan using the foil and cut into 16 squares. May be sprinkled with toasted coconut if desired.


  1. Yum! I love citrusy stuff and just looking at this is making my mouth water. One question though, is there anything else I can replace the cream cheese with? I'm currently trying out a nomad's life in Southern India, where cream cheese is not available, rather they have something else called a Cheese spread. Not the same consistency and even the cheesy taste is different. Will it work with it? Or is there a less risky substitute I can work with?

  2. Thanks, I love making people's mouth water! As for replacing the cream cheese, I'm not really sure. The cheese spread you mention does sound a little risky, but you could go ahead and try it, you never know. One possible replacement that popped into my head is yogurt that is strained for a very long time. I make yogurt a lot and always strain it some, but once in a while I accidentally let it go extra long and it turns into almost a cream cheese consistency yogurt - yogurt cheese if you will. I don't know what you have access to, but this might work. Good luck!