pomelo citrus bars

Never heard of a pomelo? Here is a fun fact: the common grapefruit (one of my favorite varieties of citrus) is actually the product of a happy union between the orange and this lesser known citrus called pomelo, or pummelo, jabong, Chinese grapefruit (to name a few of its monikers). If you’ve ever eaten a tangelo, you’ve also eaten an offshoot of the pomelo – this time the product of a union with the tangerine. Who knew, right?! I certainly did not. In fact I thought it was more the other way around – that the enigmatic pomelo was the result of some crazy exotic agri-experiment.

A native fruit of Southeast Asia, the pomelo has several varieties. Unbeknownst to me, the two pomelos I purchased from the farmers’ market recently were of two very different varieties. It wasn’t until I cut them open that I discovered how unalike they were. The fruit of one was a pale yellow and the other a deep pink. Both, however, were delicious.

pomelo citrus bars

Of course, now that I have discovered the glory of the pomelo, the season has nearly come to an end. So I encourage you now to go out into the world right at this moment and seek a few pomelos for yourself (just make sure you keep 1 1/2 for this recipe). If there are no pomelos to be found, you can also substitute just about any citrus for a zesty, fresh, and sweet Spring dessert.

pomelo citrus bars on a green plate

Pomelo Citrus Bars
Recipe from the Kitchn
Note: For the custard, you can mix pomelo juice and Meyer lemon juice or another favorite citrus instead of relying solely on pomelo. The recipe author recommends keeping the Meyer lemon zest, however, rather than replacing with another citrus.

Serves 9-12 (in small, 2 to 3 inch squares)

Shortbread Crust:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Pomelo Filling:
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup pomelo juice (1.5 large pomelos)
zest from 1 Meyer lemon
5 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, to top

Preheat oven to 325°F.

To make the shortbread crust, whisk together both sugars in a small prep bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer or using electric beaters, cream the butter with the sugars for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Add 3/4 cup flour and mix until blended. Add the remainder of the flour and mix again until just incorporated. Butter an 8 x 8 (or similar) pan and sprinkle with flour. Turn upside down over the sink to eliminate any extra flour. Press dough into the greased pan, pressing with your fingers to spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just turn golden brown. It’s okay if the center is still pale white.

To make the pomelo filling, use a wooden spoon to beat the egg yolks and the sugars in a medium-sized aluminum saucepan (it’s important to use aluminum as other cookware will react negatively with the egg yolks and can turn your curd an unpleasant color, but if necessary use whatever you have on hand). Stir in the pomelo juice and butter and turn on the burner to medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly for about 8 minutes or until it thickens just enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Your mixture should never come to a full boil if you’re stirring constantly. You want to avoid this for risk of curdling.

When the pomelo curd is thick enough to coat your wooden spoon, remove from heat and pour through a wire mesh strainer to remove chunkier particles that will inevitably develop. Finally, stir in the meyer lemon zest and give it the mixture a quick stir.

Once the shortbread crust is fully baked, take it out of the oven and lower the oven temperature to 300°F. Pour the pomelo curd on top of the crust, using a spatula to spread evenly so no shortbread crust is showing. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes or until the filling looks set but still slightly wiggles.

Cool the pomelo bars in the pan for at least one hour. Before serving, dust with sifted powdered sugar and slice.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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