Sometimes, when I’m talking about cooking something particularly involved or when I get excited about a coupon or when I spend the larger part of a weekend cleaning my house, people will say things like “you’re such a mom” or “well aren’t you just the little housewife.” And here’s where they’re wrong: If I was a mom, I would have no time to try new recipes all the time or to prepare dried garbanzo beans. If I was a housewife, I’d clean a little bit every day, so it wouldn’t take me a weekend to get it all done. (Note: if your mom had time to cook complex dishes, keep an impeccable house all the time, and retain her own sanity, you might win an award for being the least needy child ever. Or your mom is a really awesome robot.)
No, I’m more like a lame version of Martha Stewart – single, independently…solvent, and with a little too much time to think about food. Ah, the perks of being a twenty-something cook.
And so, my foray into grapefruit bars.
I first made these a few months ago. Following the original recipe, they were unbelievably bland. While they had the right consistency, there was barely a hint of citrus, let alone grapefruit. Since I love grapefruit, I wanted it to taste like the real deal, not just a wimpy light version. See my recipe below.
And so, I made grapefruit juice concentrate. To make fruit juice concentrate, you must take the juice your fruit, freeze the results in a container (like a plastic soda bottle), then then slowly thaw it upside down. By thawing it upside down, you allow the melted juice to exit the container and collect in whatever vessel you place below it. Now for the tricky part: you don’t let the whole thing melt. The frozen water, the part with no flavorful juice, is the part that melts last. You’ve got to catch the melting juice after the majority of the tasty part is gone, and a big hunk of boring ice crystals are left. Then, you have to repeat the process three times so your juice is really concentrated and there’s little water left.
To put it simply: making grapefruit juice concentrate requires a lot of time waiting around for ice to melt. However, it produces a very light, very flavorful concentrated juice that is amazing (and much more sweet than you’d expect).
Using the grapefruit juice concentrate, rather than fresh grapefruit juice, these grapefruit bars are divine. If you’re not that into grapefruit or if you don’t have the hours to spend watching your grapefruit juice get concentrated, don’t bother with this recipe. Make lemon bars instead.
1/2 lb. butter, at room temperature
1/2 + 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar [1/2 for crust, 1 2/3 for filling]
2 + 2/3 cups flour [2 cups for crust, 2/3 cup for filling]
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoon grated grapefruit zest (about 2 large grapefruits)
2/3 cup grapefruit concentrate [See above for directions]
For the crust, cream the butter and 1/2 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add 2 cups flour and salt while the mixer is on a low speed, just until mixed. Then, put dough on a cutting board, roll into a rough ball, and flatten. Keep in mind that the longer you handle, the more it will melt. (Combat this problem by using a cold marble cutting board or flouring your surface…or by not flattening it for very long.) Press the dough into a greased 9×13 glass baking dish, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill. (Chilling is important here; it keeps the crust from getting too brown when you bake it.]
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes at 350, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, for the grapefruit layer, whisk together the eggs, 1 2/3 cup sugar, grapefruit zest, grapefruit juice, and 2/3 cup flour. Pour over the cooled crust and bake for 30 minutes at 350, or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.