citrus

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake

Hi friends! Happy 2019!

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

It’s been just over a year since Russell opened his second hair shop, and he recently received an unexpected gift from someone who visited back in the early days.

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

In the first few days after opening, not many people knew the shop was there yet, so Russell found himself spending a lot time alone in the shop with the door open.

One day an older gentleman walked in the door and said he wasn’t really looking for a haircut, but just wanted someone to talk to for a little while. He explained that he was a recent widower and that he’d come up to Brooklyn from Florida to visit his son for a while. His son was at work for the day and he didn’t know anyone else in town so he was bored and lonely.

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Russell was bored too, sitting by himself waiting for potential new clients, so he said yes, of course, he’d love to have someone to talk to for a while, and might as well give him a little trim while he was there too.

His new friend stayed and enjoyed Russell’s company for a few hours before heading back to his son’s apartment, and eventually back to his own home in Florida. That was that.

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

The second shop has since picked up, with new clients, new employees, and lots of new faces from the neighborhood, so Russell hasn’t thought much about that early visit since then.

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few weeks ago though, a young man came into the shop with a large white box. He introduced himself and said he wasn’t sure if Russell would remember it or not, but his father had come in to chat with him one day about a year ago. As a way to say thank you for his kindness on that lonely day, he had sent a box of fresh juicy oranges up from his home in Florida, and asked his son to deliver them.

Russell couldn’t believe it. The gift certainly wasn’t necessary or expected, but it sure was sweet (literally)!

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Bright & juicy fresh oranges were definitely a welcome surprise in the cold grey days of February in Brooklyn, but there were so many of them that we were afraid they might spoil before we got around to eating them all. When our friends invited us over for dinner a week or two later, I decided that a fresh baked citrusy bundt cake would be a great way to thank them for dinner while also taking advantage of those beautiful oranges.

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I decided to tweak my buttermilk pound cake recipe just a bit by adding orange zest to the sugar and substituting a bit of orange juice for some of the buttermilk. I wanted the orange flavor to be obvious without being too in-your-face, and I think this recipe gets the balance between subtle and overpowering just right. To add another layer of flavor I thought that chocolate chips would be a perfect compliment to the delicate citrus flavor, and it worked out perfectly.

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

This cake is so amazing that I’ve actually made it 3 or 4 times since. You know, in the name of “recipe testing”.
The dense, velvety texture of a pound cake lends itself perfect to bundt cakes. A lighter, airier cake might get stuck in the pan or dry out without an icing to protect it, but this recipe stays moist and tender for several days. I even think the citrus flavor seems to intensify the day after it’s baked.
The flavor is buttery and citrusy and subtly sweet, with the perfect balance of delicate orange flavor dotted with rich chocolate.

Blood oranges are ideal for this recipe because they’re so tart and intensely flavored, but initially I made it with regular naval oranges and loved it, so if you can’t find blood oranges don’t sweat it. Do be sure to track down the mini chocolate chips though. Regular chocolate chips can sink in the batter and potentially stick to the pan, but since mini chips are smaller and lighter, they stay evenly distributed throughout the batter as it cooks.

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

blood orange chocolate chip bundt cake

adapted from buttermilk pound cake bundt

1 1/2 cups sugar
zest of 3 small or 2 large blood oranges (regular oranges work too)
1 cup (2 sticks) best quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
5 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup of blood orange juice (from zested oranges) *see notes
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips **see notes

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and lightly flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan. Tap out excess flour. Refrigerate pan until ready for use.

Whisk sugar and orange zest together until well combined. The sugar should take on an orange color. Set aside.
Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until very light, about a minute or two. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula and add oil and beat until smooth and combined. Add zesty sugar and beat until fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
Measure out 1/2 cup of orange juice and stir in milk and vanilla to combine.
Alternate additions of the flour and juice mixtures to the butter, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in the chocolate chips with the last addition of flour, and scrape the bowl after each addition. Do not over-mix.

Pour batter into prepared pan, leaving at least an inch from the top of the pan. Tap the pan on the counter several times to smooth out the batter and remove any air bubbles.
Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or so, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean from the center of the cake. Depending on the size and shape of your pan, or the way your oven cooks, this time may vary slightly so keep an eye on it.

Cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack before turning out of pan. Turn out onto the rack and cool completely before glazing.

Cooks notes:
*Be sure to zest your oranges before juicing them! The zest is super important for adding a ton of bright citrusy flavor so don’t skip it!
If you don’t get enough juice out of your oranges, you can make up the difference with more milk.
**Mini chocolate chips tend to not sink in the batter while the cake bakes, and should stay evenly distributed throughout the cake. If you use regular size chocolate chips, odds are they’ll all sink to the bottom and can even cause the cake to stick to the pan.

Best Simple Bundt Cake Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange liqueur (or vanilla extract)
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons half & half

Mix sugar, orange liqueur, and 2 tablespoons half & half together in a small bowl. Mix until completely smooth and free of lumps. You want the glaze to be very thick so it doesn’t slide right off the cake, but it does need to be liquid enough that it pours smoothly. If necessary, thin the glaze out with more half & half, adding only about 1/2 a teaspoon at a time to avoid thinning it too much. A little goes a surprisingly long way.

Pour the glaze in a steady stream over the center of the cake. Place a pan under the rack to catch any glaze drips. Let the glaze harden for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

This cake can be stored, tightly covered at room temperature, for about 3 or 4 days.

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The Sherry Cobbler

The Sherry cobbler is a historic recipe, and when I say historic, I mean it!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m all too well aware that fancy speakeasies and prohibition era cocktail lounges are all the rage right now, but this drink pre-dates even those. While those cocktails were popular in the 1920s or 30s, the Sherry Cobbler most likely came of age sometime in the 1820 or 30s and really took off in the 1840s!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

They say that like champagne was to the 1920s, or the Cosmo to the 1990s, The Sherry Cobbler was a quintessential part of American life and culture in the 1800s. In fact, when Charles Dickens visited the US, it was one of his favorite things about his trip and he talks about it in his 1844 book The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. “Martin took the glass with an astonished look; applied his lips to the reed; and cast up his eyes once in ecstasy. He paused no more until the goblet was drained to the last drop. ‘This wonderful invention, sir,’ said Mark, tenderly patting the empty glass, ‘is called a cobbler. Sherry Cobbler when you name it long; cobbler, when you name it short.’”

The “reed” mentioned in this passage refers to what we today call a straw. At the time this was written, a drinking straw was a total novelty, and people in bars would often need to be shown how to use one because it was so unfamiliar. The Sherry Cobbler is actually credited with introducing the straw to popular consciousness in America! These weren’t the demonized plastic straws of today though, but a rye or reed straw, a bi-product of the hay industry. Today similar straws are making a comeback as America tries to find alternatives to plastic straws, and in fact the straws you see pictured here are the very same!
I got them from a company called HAY! straws.

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

So- what is a Sherry Cobbler?
I’m glad you asked.
It’s essentially Sherry, shaken with muddled citrus & sugar, and strained and poured over crushed ice. It also happens to be super delicious and refreshing, especially on a hot day. It’s sweet and bright and citrusy in all the best possible ways, and not too boozy, so you can keep ’em comin’!

A few things made the popularity of the Sherry Cobbler possible at this specific time in American history.

Sherry, a fortified wine from Andalusia Spain, had recently started to find it’s way into America as trade increased and tariffs dropped. Nineteenth-century Americans saw sherry as foreign, fancy, and affordable all at once, and it became very popular.

Sugar and citrus were also making their way into American homes as trade increased and prices dropped. Suddenly even in Northern states, people were able to get fresh citrus at certain times of year when it had been extremely rare before. Cheap sugar meant that Americans developed a real sweet tooth though, so I actually scaled back the sugar in my recipe, because I found the original recipe a bit too sweet for modern tastes.

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

Perhaps the most important part of the drink though, was the ice! Before this point, most alcoholic beverages were served warm or hot, because ice was rare and expensive and refrigeration wasn’t yet a thing. At that point, ice had to be harvested by sawing huge blocks out of frozen lakes and storing them in ice houses. In the 1840s though, they began to industrialize the harvesting process, and suddenly ice was affordable and readily available, so it could be used on frivolous things like drinks. To me, the crushed ice in this drink makes it feel a bit like an adult snow-cone! It also means that if you tipped the glass toward your mouth, the ice would spill all over you, hence what I said before about this cocktails singlehandedly popularizing the drinking straw!
I used a canvass ice crushing bag called a Lewis Bag, along with a mallet (I used my CLEAN meat tenderizer) to get my finely crushed snowy ice!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know this is a very summery cocktail to be sharing in October, but there’s a very good reason that I’ve waited until now to share it with you.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a special project with my good friend Stephanie…

 

We’re starting a podcast!!!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

I hope this doesn’t break your hearts baking lovers, but food is not the theme of our show. There will be a cocktail featured in each episode though, if that softens the blow at all.

You already know I love history, but I also really love politics. Now, as a food blogger, discussing politics has always been a touchy subject because it’s such a personal thing and I don’t want to alienate anyone who just came here to look at bundt cakes. I’ve touched on a few specific topics over the years, when the issues at hand were incredibly important to me, but for the most part, I’ve left that part of my life out of Brooklyn Homemaker.

Don’t worry though, Stephanie and I will NOT be discussing current events on our show. There are plenty of voices out there already doing that. Our podcast will actually be about the politics of the past, specifically political scandals from American History! The show is called Beyond Reproach, because while we believe public servants should be squeaky clean upstanding citizens, history has shown us time and time again that they definitely ain’t. I know this topic may sound dull, but I promise it’s presented in a really fun way. Basically, we’ll be telling each other stories from America’s sordid past as we drink fancy cocktails, talk too much, interrupt each other, put our feet in our mouths, and go off on (sometimes totally unrelated) tangents. If cursing offends you, this probably isn’t the show for you, but I promise it’s hilarious, eye-opening, and educational all at once!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

What does all this have to do with this old-timey cocktail recipe you ask?

Well, for each episode we choose a cocktail that was popular during the era of the first scandal we discuss. In our very first episode, Stephanie tells a story from the late 1800s, so this was the first cocktail we featured.
Not only that, but today also just happens to be the very day that we officially launched the show, and to celebrate I wanted to share my fun new project with all of you! Nothing would make me happier than to have you come over and check us out!
I won’t overwhelm you with all the social media and all that, but please click these links to find us on itunes, and check out our show’s website.

Please do check us out, and if you like us, don’t forget to subscribe to the show, and maybe even give us a rating or review on your favorite pod catcher!!!

Thanks y’all! I hope to see you over at Beyond Reproach!

sherry cobbler | Brooklyn Homemaker

The Sherry Cobbler

  • Servings: makes 1 cocktail
  • Print
Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 orange wheels (1 for garnish)
2 lemon wheels (1 for garnish)
2 teaspoons superfine sugar, (or 1/2 oz simple syrup)
3 ounces dry Sherry (amontillado or mazanilla)
mint sprig and raspberries for garnish

Muddle 1 orange wheel, 1 lemon wheel, and sugar or simple syrup together in a cocktail shaker. Add Sherry and plenty of ice, and shake vigorously until outside is frosty, about 30 seconds.
Strain into a collins or highball glass filled to the top with crushed ice. Add more crushed ice, packing into the glass and mounding above rim. Garnish with mint, raspberry, an orange wheel, and a lemon wheel. Drink with a straw, and enjoy!

winter citrus salad with spiced pork chops

Why hello there friends! I’ve missed you!

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know it’s been a long while since I shared anything with you here, and for that I’m sorry. This post has been a long time coming.

I have a little story for you.
I bought a journal the other day.
I had a journal when I was a teenager, but that was kept for reasons of pure juvenile vanity. This new journal is to be kept for a different purpose altogether.

Words like “overwhelmed”, “frightened”, and “anxious” can’t even begin to describe how I’ve been feeling for the past few months, so I’ve decided to keep a record of the things that are happening as they happen. I don’t want to forget how everything really came to pass if and when the “alternative facts” outweigh the real ones. It may be important some day.

Hold on to your butts folks, I’m about to do the thing that a food blogger is never ever supposed to do under any circumstances. I’m going to talk about politics.

GASP!

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Food bloggers are supposed to make light and bubbly conversation with their readers, detailing nostalgic stories from their childhoods, or relating amusing little anecdotes from daily life. We’re supposed to share our lives, but in a way that’s innocuous and easy to digest. The goal of a food blogger is to write mouth-watering recipes, amuse our readers, and hopefully grow our readership. Therefore, any subject that could be construed as polarizing is at odds with our aim to gain followers, and is usually off-limits. Under normal circumstances, we spend our days baking cakes and turning zucchini into spaghetti; we’re not “journalists”, nor are we policy experts or political science majors. That doesn’t mean however, that we don’t have opinions or principles, nor does it mean that our votes or our stakes in the management of our country count any less than anyone else’s.

I’ve been chewing away at all this in my head for the past few weeks and months, and in the end I’ve decided that some things are just too important to keep quiet about. If you find my views and convictions to be “offensive” and you decide not to keep reading my blog or cooking my recipes, I’ll just have to accept that. After all, we’re talking about pork chops and cupcakes here, while people’s lives, livelihoods, and lifestyles are on the line. If you’re a regular reader, you should at least know by now that I’m a man and I’m married to another man, so it should really be no surprise to you that I’m nervous about how our lives may be affected under a president who’s pandering to the most narrow-minded, prejudiced, and hateful among us.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

I realize that there are many people in the world who are thrilled with the outcome of the recent election, and are pleased as punch that campaign promises are being kept. If you’re one of those people, please understand that I’m speaking my mind today for a reason. I’m not just a “sore loser” or a “snowflake” as I’ve been called recently on social media. I’m speaking out because there’s so much at stake, and I fear the consequences of intolerant, inexperienced, irresponsible leadership.

Like it or not, we now have a man in power who cares more about money and his own ego than he cares about the country he’s pledged to lead. Say what you will about our last president, I know he wasn’t perfect, but he was a thoughtful man with integrity and grace, and a man who cared deeply about our country. Our current president is immature, irrational, erratic, and is easily influenced by those willing to stoke his ego or line his pockets. He’s proven that any billionaire willing to vocally praise him will be rewarded with a cabinet appointment, no matter how inexperienced and ill-suited they are to the job.

His closest adviser and Chief Strategist is an unapologetic racist and spokesperson for the alt-right (neo-nazi) movement, who once said in an interview, “I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
I mean, how terrifying is that? The president’s (alt-)right hand man, who knows more about politics and policy than he does himself, has proudly declared that he wants to destroy our country as we know it. With his mentorship, our president is actively working to divide our country against itself. Rich against poor, old against young, straight against gay, native-born citizen against immigrant, man against feminist, and white Christian against any and all other creeds and colors. He’s essentially waging a war against anyone in this country who isn’t a rich, straight, white, conservative, Christian, and it scares the crap out of the rest of us.

Since we’re on the subject of war by the way, his foreign policy decisions are irresponsible and ill-informed at best, and the disrespectful way he speaks with world leaders and long-time allies is downright dangerous. I don’t want to sound over-dramatic, but this man could be putting our lives and safety at serious risk.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

For me, the first days after the election were a mix of horror, depression, and cautious hope that maybe this man might not be as bad as he made himself out to be. Maybe he really was just trying to appeal to the worst in us because he knew it could work, but when it came to leadership, maybe he’d be… okay-ish? Of course, a lot has happened in a short time, and my worst fears have been recognized. He’s made it abundantly clear that things are going to be very, very scary for the next few years.

I have so many unanswered questions right now, and I lay awake at night thinking about how my life is in the hands of someone who doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself and his rich white friends.
Will our marriage be deemed invalid or the federal marriage protections we enjoy reversed? Is it safe for us to ever consider having children? Will the quality of our (hypothetical) children’s education eventually be dependent on our income? Will I lose my healthcare? Will my family lose their (government) jobs? Will my neighbors be removed from their homes and deported? Will my friends become victims of harassment and violence? Will my taxes increase to pay for unnecessary and ineffective border security? Will the EPA be dissolved, climate change officially denied, and our environment and national parks destroyed for profit? Will we lose our freedom of the press under a man who can’t handle criticism or opposition? How far backward will be forced before we can move forward again, and how long will it take to repair the damage this man and his appointees can do over the next four years?

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Reading the news every day has become an exercise in masochism, but the one ray of hope is the knowledge that things don’t have to be like this, and this can’t last forever. To make sure these dark times end as quickly as possible, we must stand together, look past (or hopefully even celebrate) our differences, and be steadfast in our opposition to his attempts to divide and destroy us.

The people united will never be defeated.

In the months since the election, his popularity has plummeted and he’s become the least popular incoming president in the history of the gallup poll. His every move has been met with vocal criticism, nation-wide protests, and countless lawsuits; and frankly I couldn’t be more proud of the everyday citizens who’ve taken a stand. I’ve heard my whole life about how lazy and complacent my generation is, but when the shit hit the fan, we took to the streets with clever signs and knit hats, flooded our representatives in Washington with phone calls and postcards, organized resistance networks on social media, donated our hard-earned money to Black Lives Matter and the ACLU, and hosted fundraisers to benefit Planned ParenthoodCAIR, and the Water Protectors.

Ultimately, I know I’m not saying anything new here, and if you’ve been paying attention, I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. I guess the real point I’m trying to make here is that we all have a voice, and in these unsettling times we can’t be afraid to use them, even if doing so might have some negative consequences.
We need to do everything in our power to show people with other points of view that policies designed to “protect traditional values” can have terrible negative consequences, and don’t just affect unknown hypothetical immigrants, feminists, people of color, or homosexuals. These policies directly affect the lives of their friends and neighbors, their baristas and hair stylists, their surgeons and teachers, and even their favorite food bloggers.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Whew! I didn’t realize when I started writing this that I had SO MUCH to say, but I’ve been holding back for so long that I’ve had plenty of time to gather my thoughts. I’m sorry that I’ve basically ignored the recipe altogether through this post, but I promise I have just a few quick things to say about the yummy salad in these pretty pictures.

A few weeks ago Russell talked me into doing the Whole30 diet with him. I have to admit, it’s been really difficult and I’m totally over it and can’t wait for the end. I’ve been dreaming about chocolate chip cookies and pizza for weeks, but we’re in the final stretch now and I’m happy we did it. Oddly enough, as restrictive as this diet is, it’s been a sort of fun exercise in will power and self-discipline, and in a world that feels like it’s rapidly spinning out of control, having total control over something, anything, feels really refreshing. Having this much restriction has also deemed most restaurant food off-limits, and forced us into the kitchen multiple times a day, every day. While it certainly has felt like a chore at times, spending so much time in the kitchen has been strangely therapeutic. My kitchen feels like “home” to me, and cooking so often has brought some semblance of familiarity and normalcy back to my life, even if I’d really have preferred to drown my worries and sorrows in a thick slice of chocolate cake.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

I swung by my local butcher shop one day looking for pork chops, and when I spotted the gorgeous cara cara and blood oranges in their produce case, I instantly knew what I wanted to do. We’re friends with the butchers there, and the pork chops they gave me were very generous, huge even, but I actually think a smaller chop would have been better suited to this recipe. Mine were about a pound each, but I think 1/2 lb chops would be the way to go. If you’re not a huge pork fan, or can’t find good thick pork chops, you could also do the same spice rub on some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and they’d be amazing too.

Because Whole30 is so protein heavy, it’s important to make sure you eat LOTS of veggies with every meal, and to go for BIG, BOLD flavors as often as possible to avoid gustatory boredom.

This salad is definitely not lacking in big, bold flavors. The mix of citrus fruits add fresh biting acidity and bright sweetness; the pistachios are rich and buttery; the fennel fresh, sweet, earthy, and slightly anise-y; the arugula is peppery with a hint of bitterness; the pork perfectly spiced, wonderfully browned on the outside, and tender and juicy inside; and the dressing, with red wine vinegar and a hint of Dijon mustard, ties it all together perfectly.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Winter Citrus Salad with Spiced Pork Chops

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Generous salt and pepper to taste
2 thick-cut, bone-in pork chops (about a half pound each)
2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
Arugula
mix of citrus fruit (I used 1 each of tangerine, blood, naval, and cara cara oranges)
a handful of thinly shaved slices of fennel bulb or stalks
1/4 cup roasted pistachios

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly toast spices in a dry skillet until they smell fragrant. This should only take a few minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder (or coffee grinder *see note) along with salt and pepper. Grind into a fine powder. Sprinkle or rub all over both sides of your pork chops and let them rest at room temperature for about an hour. If you like, you can use this time to prepare the citrus or mix the dressing.

Preheat your oven to 400F and let a large cast iron skillet heat up with it.

Remove the skillet from the oven and add olive oil or butter. Place the skillet over a medium-high flame and sear the pork chops for about 3 minutes on one side. They’ll probably smoke a bit, so use your vent fan. Flip the chops and immediately transfer to the oven. Roast until the chops reach 135 to 140F at the thickest part of the chop. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes.

Remove from the skillet, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes while you assemble the rest of the salad.

Place enough arugula for 2 individual servings (how much you like is totally up to you) into salad bowls. Use a very sharp knife to cut the peel off of your citrus and slice them into thin discs. Top the arugula with the citrus discs, shaved fennel, and pistachios.

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake shake shake to combine. Pour over the salads and toss to combine if desired.

Top with rested pork chops and enjoy!

 

*Cooks note: Only use a coffee grinder if you have a spare. Don’t use a grinder you use for coffee or your coffee will taste like ground cumin, fennel, & mustard. Alternatively you could use a mortar and pestle.

grapefruit bars

Well folks. Guess what…
I’m a man obsessed. I have yet another citrus recipe to share with you.

grapefruit bars | Brooklyn Homemaker

First though, I would like to mention that Brooklyn Homemaker received enough nominations in theKitchn’s The Homies to make it into the finals for “best daily read” cooking blog! Woohoo!!! I only started writing this blog about six months ago, and at that time I never imagined that I would come so far so quickly. I hate to sound like I’m bragging, but I feel like my writing style and photography skills, as well as my understanding of blogging and my idea of what I want Brooklyn Homemaker to be, have grown and improved so so much. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but I’m at a place where I feel very pleased with the direction of this blog and excited for what it will become in the future.

If you are as big a fan of Brooklyn Homemaker as I am, and you’re as excited about the future of the blog as I am, please take a moment to vote for me in The Homies for “best daily read”. TheKitchn does make you create an account, but they make it very easy, and you can even sign in through facebook. Please choose Brooklyn Homemaker from the list of ten finalists at the top of the page HERE. Being such a young blog, I honestly cannot believe that I’m holding my own against blogs that have been around for years and have thousands of readers. It is such a huge honor to have made it into the finals and no matter what the outcome, I will be thrilled to have done so well. Being one of the ten finalists has brought in so many new readers, and I couldn’t be happier about it. If you’re new here, welcome! I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll keep coming back!

grapefruit bars | Brooklyn Homemaker

Okay. Enough about me, let’s get back to the recipe.

Although we’re facing another cold front, the weather in Brooklyn actually warmed up for a brief moment over the weekend. Unsurprisingly though, my nagging citrus craving didn’t subside one bit. This time around I thought something bright and sweet and unmistakably citrus-y might do the trick to help me snap out of it. For over a week now I’ve been thinking about trying to make grapefruit curd, but I hadn’t yet because I couldn’t decide what I’d do with it. I love citrus curd but if I’m making it fresh I usually like to use it to fill a cake or serve with brunch or some such thing. Homemade curd tastes one bajillion times better than the store-bought stuff, but it isn’t nearly as shelf stable, so if I don’t have a plan to use it up pretty quickly, I generally don’t think it’s worth the trouble.

grapefruit bars | Brooklyn Homemaker

I toyed with the idea of making a grapefruit cake, but decided that if I were going to do that I’d want to make the famous Brown Derby grapefruit cake, which doesn’t actually call for grapefruit curd. Maybe some other time. After racking my brain a bit longer it finally hit me, I’d make lemon bars but with grapefruit instead. Since you don’t have to pre-cook the curd on the stove top it’s actually even simpler, but with very similar (delicious) results. I consulted with my dream woman, idol, and friend-in-my-head, Ina Garten, for the recipe, and made some tweaks and substitutions to turn her more traditional lemon bars into grapefruit bars instead.

grapefruit bars | Brooklyn Homemaker

Though her recipe is truly wonderful and worked perfectly with the grapefruit substitution, I wish I’d read some of the comments before I got started. I ended up having to make two batches to perfect this recipe, and I learned a few important things from the first, failed, attempt. The first batch wasn’t actually a true fail though. They were pretty decent, but they weren’t GREAT, and I wasn’t sure they were worth sharing here. So, rather than accepting defeat, or worse, blogging about a recipe I wasn’t that happy with, I decided to give it another shot the next day, and had MUCH better results.

grapefruit bars | Brooklyn Homemaker

In the name of learning, here’s what I did wrong the first time around. In an attempt to make for more attractive photos, I tried to make the first batch in a pretty white ceramic baking dish, but the pan was slightly smaller than the recommended 9×13 called for in the recipe. This already makes for a thick bar, and the smaller pan ended up making them even thicker. They took much longer to set than expected, baked kind of unevenly, and resulted in a slightly overcooked and muted flavor instead of the bright citrus-forward flavor I was hoping for. After reading some of the comments, I learned that a lot of people said they like a thinner bar and used a larger pan, like a 10×15 or a baker’s half sheet to spread the bars out, which apparently works really well. Making the bars even thicker than they already were though, was definitely not a wise decision on my part. Another thing I learned from reading the comments, again too late for the first batch, is that the filling shouldn’t be mixed together until the very last minute. If mixed too early, the acid in the citrus juice can affect the texture of the raw eggs, effectively cooking the eggs before they’re baked, and giving the cooked filling a rubbery “off” texture.

grapefruit bars | Brooklyn Homemaker

But here’s the good news! The second time around these bars were everything I was hoping they would be and more! The grapefruit really makes for a wonderful and interesting twist on the traditional lemon bar. I think lemon bars are delicious, but the super tart, super sweet flavor can sometimes seem a little one note and end up tasting like sour candy rather than a homemade baked treat. In addition to the tart and sweet flavors, the grapefruit juice adds some bitterness and depth that pairs really well with the buttery shortbread crust. They’re such a great little twist on the traditional lemon bars. They have all of that sweet and tart flavor you’re expecting but with just a hint of grapefruity bitterness. The curd filling is soft and sweet and ever-so-slightly gooey, and the buttery shortbread adds just enough crispness and bite to really bring another layer of texture and interest to the experience. SO. GOOD.

grapefruit bars | Brooklyn Homemaker

I hope you’ll give these bars a shot. Don’t let my initial mistakes scare you, this recipe is actually really simple and easy. If you learn from my mistakes and use the right size (or larger) pan, and be patient enough not to mix the filling too early, you’ll be thrilled with the results. Especially, obviously, if you’re a big grapefruit fan like I am. If you’re someone, also like me, who likes to try to get yourself prepared and ready ahead of time, you could always zest and juice your citrus ahead and could even mix the sugar in with the zest and juice. Just make sure you don’t mix the eggs in until you’re ready to bake. Okay? Now go preheat that oven. It’s cold outside again and you need something tropical-ish in your life.

grapefruit bars | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grapefruit Bars

  • Servings: 20-40 bars, depending on how you cut them
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adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

crust:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

filling:
6 large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated citrus zest (from 2 lemons and 1 large grapefruit)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
3/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (from 1 large grapefruit)
1 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and mix on low until just combined. Gather the dough together into a ball, and with floured hands, flatten the dough and press it into a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Leave the oven on and let the crust cool slightly while you make the filling. Resist the urge to make the filling ahead, and wait until the crust comes out of the oven.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, citrus zest, citrus juices, and eggs. Add flour and whisk until well combined, making sure there are no lumps. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is just set. Let cool to room temperature before cutting.
Cut into triangles and, with a sieve or dredger, dust with confectioners’ sugar.