My in-laws are in town from Bogota, Colombia, so along with all the shopping and sightseeing, I’ve been trying to show off my kitchen skills. They’ve had my cooking before, but not since we moved to Berkeley.
Instead of the usual chocolate chip cookie or cranberry pie, I opted for a true taste of the bay with these crunchy little citrus bars. I used fresh lemons and oranges, walnuts from the farmers’ market, local honey and agave nectar instead of sugar.
My tactics worked, and they were impressed – so much so that they ate them for breakfast as well. It always makes me happy when I try to make a dessert a bit healthier and my guests don’t notice the difference. Just goes to show that there really is little need for white sugar when there are so many tastier substitutes available.
Ingredients for Citrus Nut Bars:
2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup diced butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup local honey
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon lemon rind
1 teaspoon orange rind
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons of fresh orange juice
Preheat the oven to 350F. Sift together the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Add the diced butter and chopped walnuts and hazelnuts, and stir until it looks like course breadcrumbs. I used a pestle to help break up the butter a bit. Stir in one tablespoon of water until the dough comes together in a ball.
Press the dough into a 13×9 dish, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool while you work on the lemon filling.
Next the filling:
Beat together the eggs, honey, agave, flour, baking powder, citrus rinds and juices until smooth. Pour over the crust and bake for 25 minutes. When cool, cut into bars. Garnish with a little icing sugar on top.