Grapefruit Meringue Bars
Full floral notes meets decadent graham cracker crust in this lovely citrus fusion custard bar
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One of my favorite citrus treats is a key lime pie. Until very recently that is . This delicious bar is layers of buttery graham cracker crust, bright and floral grapefruit curd and topped with a citrus meringue. And the best part, it can all be done with out baking.
Some of these steps are technical but I promise, you can do it. The biggest misconception about baking is thinking that the recipe is too advanced and therefore shouldn't be approached. But I am here to tell you most things can be salvaged just stay calm and know that you can do this!
"The more you know, the more you can create. There's no end to imagination in the kitchen. " - Julia Child
So, lets get into it. The first step is making the graham cracker crust. I have all the measurements listed below, but an easy way to test out how many crackers you need to make a crust with the thickness of your choosing is to lay the full crackers out in the pan and keep layering them till you have your desired thickness. add an extra layer for the side rim if applicable and there you have it.
I put all my graham crackers into a sealable bag and mash them with a rolling pin. I find this is more efficient than using a blender because I get to determine how fine I want the crumb. from here, toss the crumbs with some sugar, butter and zest if you choose. I always line my baking sheets with parchment so that taking the treat out is easy. then press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan. pushing down firmly till it is tightly packed. make sure to create a ridge up the side of the pan so that your curd stays put. From here you can choose to chill the crust in the freezer for an hour or bake in the oven at 350 f for 15 minutes. Ether way allow it time to get to room temp before adding in your curd.
Now on to the curd. This is just a combination of eggs, sugar and citrus. In this case I am using grapefruit juice and lemon juice (to make it even more tart) but you could literally take this recipe and make any flavor you want. The trick is to take it slow and make sure you temper your eggs. Tempering eggs is just the process of warming them up slowly so you don't shock them and end up with scrambled eggs in your curd (yuck). To do this correctly, warm your juice and sugar up to a simmer. Add eggs to a separate bowl and whisk them together. Once your sugar is dissolved and the liquid mixture is simmering, slowly add half of it to the eggs. Be sure to stir constantly. Once you have about half your liquid mixture added to the eggs, add the whole thing back into your sauce pan to cook. You have to bring this to 165f to make sure it is fully cooked. So whip out your sugar (or meat) thermometer and whisk constantly. Once it reaches 165 f take it off the heat and continue to stir for about 2 minutes to help it cool off and prevent eggs from seizing up. add it to the room temp crust and then get ready to make the Swiss meringue.
You can easily top this with whipped cream and have a delicious dessert, but something about the Swiss Meringue makes it so much fancier and gives it that upscale vibe we are looking for.
Swiss meringue is just sugar and eggs. This time just egg whites. Once again you need to bring the eggs up to temperature but this time we are doing it over a double boiler. Add a few inches of water to a sauce pan. in a glass mixing bowl you will add your eggs and sugar. wish all together and place on top of your sauce pan making sure that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the mixing bowl. Whisk egg mixture slowly until sugar dissolves and the mixture resembles a jelly texture. it shouldn't ever boil. Once it reaches this point is just a matter of mixing really fast till stiff peaks form.
So lets get to the recipe.
Grapefruit Curd and Citrus Meringue Bars
For the crust:
18 graham crackers
12 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 1/2 blood orange or lemon
For the Curd:
1 c sugar
1 TBSP corn starch
5 whole eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 c grapefruit juice
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp grapefruit zest (optional)
For the Meringue:
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
zest of 1 blood orange.
Start by lining an 8x8 pan (USA pans) with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F. Add graham crackers to a bag and crush thoroughly until very fine. In a large bowl, add the crushed graham crackers, melted butter, sugar, salt, and blood orange/lemon zest. Mix until well combined. Add mixture to the 8x8 pan and press in firmly. Be sure to make the crust go up the sides to hold the curd. Once the crust is firmly packed into your pan, bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Let cool completely while you make the grapefruit curd.
Add the sugar, salt, and cornstarch to a sauce pan and mix well. Place over medium heat and add in the grapefruit and lemon juice. Be sure to stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
In a separate mixing bowl, mix the eggs and get ready to temper them. Once your sugar-juice mixture has come to a simmer, slowly add about half of it into the eggs while stirring (this is called tempering and will ensure your eggs don’t scramble). Now transfer the tempered eggs to the saucepan. You now need to make sure that this mixture gets to temperature (165°F) so that the eggs cook thoroughly. Using a meat thermometer or a candy thermometer mix this constantly till fully cooked (165°F). At this point, take the pan off the heat and continue to stir for an additional 2 minutes while the mixture cools (stirring accelerates the cooling process to stop the cooking). Add mixture directly to the graham cracker crust and let cool on the counter for 10 minutes. Then transfer to the fridge and let cool for at least one hour.
When the hour is up, make your meringue topping. Add eggs, sugar, salt, and zest to a glass mixing bowl. Whisk together until combined. Place over a saucepan with a few inches of water in the pan; this is creating a double boiler and will gently cook the eggs. Do not let the water touch the bottom of the mixing bowl. Stir this mixture until it becomes a jelly-like consistency, and the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the egg mixture to a bowl of a stand mixer (you can keep it in the original bowl and use a hand mixer as well, a stand mixer will just allow you to walk away if needed) and mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high for another 5 minutes or until the egg mixture starts to look white and fluffy. Increase speed once more to high for another 5-8 minutes or until super white, glossy and holds a stiff peak. Once it has made it to his point, turn off the mixer and dollop your beautiful glossy meringue on top of the curd bars. Torch this lightly with a kitchen torch or underneath an oven broiler on low. You WILL HAVE TO WATCH this as it will burn super fast. All you want is to put a little golden color on your meringue, DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THIS.
Once you have the desired color, you can serve right away or store in the fridge (for up to 3 days) till ready to serve. Enjoy!