My baking habits and preferences tend to shift/align with the seasons, and as the intense heat of this summer rages on in my part of the world, I find myself craving a lot of fruit.
Most of these baking cravings are for citrus fruit. Hot weather increases my appetite for their sharp/tart/sour flavors that hit those taste buds directly in the back of the tongue and mouth–you know which ones I’m talking about.
Because it is so hot though, it’s best to try to limit the time in the kitchen with the oven on, so I also try to stick to making desserts that don’t require much effort or baking time–like this one.
Today’s post/recipe is actually inspired by a recipe I posted several years ago for lemon bars that I love and have made pretty consistently every summer, since I first tried it. It’s quick, easy and features minimal ingredients that aren’t very hard to get your hands on, especially at this time of year. When I find a good ‘blank canvas’ recipe like that, I tend to try to imagine different ways to put a new ‘spin’ on them, and this is basically the first of what I expect to be several yummy spins on the original.
I’ve made two changes to the original recipe that are worth noting here. First, I swapped out the lemons in the original recipe for limes (key limes, if you can get your hands on them). Second, I added fresh raspberries to the recipe for both added texture and flavor, dropping them into the curd mixture so that they are set in with the finished top layer. While raspberry and lemon is a classic and delicious combination, I think that lime and raspberry is even tastier.
I was so pleased with how these turned out. The bottom crust is a pretty yummy sugar cookie all by itself, but the real star of this dessert is undoubtedly the lime curd. Texturally, it’s smooth, and flavor wise it manages to have the perfect balance of sour and sweet. The raspberries add both a tartness and a bit of texture to the overall bite.
One last thing worth noting is that this is a very flexible recipe, ingredient wise. Meaning, it’s simple to swap out the lime juice for any other citrus juices that tickle your fancy, like the original lemon, orange or even grapefruit. Similarly, any berries will work as a substitute for the raspberries.
Summer in a bite, truly.
Raspberry-Lime Cookie Bars
For Cookie Crust
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar, plus more if desired
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- the zest of 3 limes, divided
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or emulsion (like LorAnn’s)
For Lime Curd
- 5 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1/3 cup flour
- 6 ounces fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.. Line a 13 x 9 baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray it lightly with cooking spray.
In a medium size bowl, combine the 2 cups of flour with the 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, pinch of salt and the zest from two of the limes. Stir together with a fork.
Use your fingers (or even better, a box grater) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the milk and vanilla. Stir together with a fork or your hands until it begins to form large and slightly sticky clumps. If it’s still too dry to hold together, you can add some water or milk (only 1 tablespoon at a time) just until it does.
Spread your fingers or a spatula with cooking spray and press these clumps into the bottom of the pan, forming as level a layer of the dough as you can.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the eggs with the 1 1/2 cups of white sugar, the zest of the third lime, and the lime juice. Whisk thoroughly until the egg yolks have broken up.
Add in the flour, whisking again until all of the clumps are smoothed out. Pour on top of the cookie crust.
Sprinkle the raspberries into the curd mixture in an even layer.
Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until the lime curd is set. Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar if desired before cutting into bars.