When I think of foods I want to eat in Florida, I always think of fresh citrus. Oranges, lemons, limes—zested into desserts, into drinks, into 5-Star meals. Speaking of 5-Star foods, my Citrus Sugar Cookie Bar is packed full of citrus! AND they're inspired by the 5-Star luxury resort and spa Acqualina!
Just like the Acqualina, these bars are festive, zesty, and will put a pep in your step!
Acqualina gave all of their guests a copy of my magical realism novel The Baker's Man! So while you treat yourself to this citrus-packed dessert inspired by my novel, why not plan a future trip to Aqualina's gorgeous stretch of beach and read about a small-town baker who creates a man out of dough and turns her life upside down!
Waves and waves of thank yous to the Acqualina Resort & Spa and Bedside Reading for sharing my books with their special guests and for their continued love and support for authors and readers during a time when we've needed an extra boost of magic!
Citrus Sugar Cookie Bars
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
4 Tbsp citrus zest* (orange, lime, lemon)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp baking soda
For citrus icing:
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup crème fraiche (or sour cream, full fat)
¼ tsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp citrus zest* (orange, lime, lemon)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2–3 cups confectioners’ sugar (to taste, add more ¼ c at a time for desired sweetness)
1–2 Tbsp citrus juice* (to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan.
2. In a food processor, pulse together sugar and zest until zest is finely ground, approximately 1 minute.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat citrus sugar and butter at medium speed until fluffy, 1–2 minutes.
4. Beat in egg for 30 seconds. Then add vanilla. Beat another 30 seconds.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until soft dough forms. Do not overmix.
6. Using a spatula, drop dough into prepared pan. Using a sheet of parchment paper coated with cooking spray, press dough into pan.
7. Bake until lightly golden and a wooden pick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 20–24 minutes. Ovens vary, so check often once you hit the 20-minute mark. Let cool completely in pan.
8. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan. Using an offset spatula, spread the citrus frosting onto bars. Create swirls and decorate with sprinkles if so desired.
9. Refrigerate until set, approximately 20 minutes. Cut into 24 bars. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.
For citrus frosting:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat butter, crème fraiche, and salt at medium speed until smooth, 2–3 minutes.
2. Beat in zest and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, gradually add in confectioners’ sugar, beating until incorporated.
3. Add citrus juice, and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Use immediately.
*For citrus zest and juice, you can use oranges, limes, lemons, and Meyer lemons. You can use only one type, a combination of your favorite types, or a combination of all. For the cookies I used 1 large Naval orange, 2 lemons, and 2 limes. I used the same amount of fruits for the frosting. Total: 2 oranges, 4 lemons, 4 limes.