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Move over lemon, Orange Dream Bars are IN THE HOUSE. Better than lemon bars, this is one of the best orange recipes you’ll ever try!
Orange Dream Bars – the BEST Orange Recipe!
I’ve talked at length before about how, while I love my house and my friends here in Sacramento, I really, really don’t want to live here forever. My heart belongs to the San Francisco Bay Area, the ocean, and the fog. It would also be easier for my husband if we lived in the bay area, because there aren’t many IT jobs where we live. Luckily, he’s been able to work from home for the last 10 years, but you never know how long that will last. Also, if I have to live in this heat until I die I might go insane.
We stay here because it’s affordable and because our daughter is happy here. She’s settled in a school, with friends, and we don’t want to uproot her. My husband moved a lot when he was a kid and never wants to do that to Jordan if he doesn’t have to. So, until she graduates from high school we just enjoy occasional weekends trips to Half Moon Bay and San Francisco, and we plan how we’re going to win the lottery and buy a house by the beach in 9 years. And, you guys, my husband had the BEST idea last week and I think we can actually make it come true.
Real estate in Half Moon Bay (and the entire bay area) is INSANE. Like, in my parent’s neighborhood (Burlingame) it would cost $5,000/month to RENT a 2BR/1BA house. It’s insane. We know that we’ll never be able to afford a house there, because starter homes are upwards of $800,000 (and that’s usually one that needs a ton of work). Mel’s idea was to buy some land now, then figure out a house later. It’s kind of like buying a house in two parts and it’s genius. You know why? Wait for it…
…Because when we can finally move to our dream house by the beach we can fill the land with Tiny Houses, since we probably won’t be able to afford to pay $300 per square foot to build. A village of tiny homes on our lot by the ocean. Isn’t it genius? My village would have:
A tiny living room house: living area, family room, kitchen, bathroom. No loft, just super high ceilings with a pantry stocked sky high full of food blogger props.
A master bedroom house: where we’d sleep, with a little sitting area and a bathroom.
An office tiny house: Room for two desks, a bathroom, and a loft for guests.
And, finally, a guest room/Jordan’s room tiny house: another master bedroom house, for guests.
Heck, maybe I’ll even add in a kitchen/photography only tiny house. JUST FOR ME.
It’s GENIUS. A village of tiny homes, all on one lot, walking distance to the ocean.
I’ll sit on my tiny porch and eat Orange Dream Bars all day long while I live my dream.
These bars are super simple to make and they’re so good. If you like lemon bars, you’re going to LOVE these. In fact, I used my lemon bar recipe, but I used orange juice instead! They’ve got a thick shortbread crust, which is super important for any citrus bar. I used fresh orange juice and zest in the filling. The filling is simple to make – you just whisk eggs and sugar and the orange juice and zest and poor it over a partially baked hot crust. Once the bars cook and cool the filling is like a nice thick orange curd. They taste like sunshine and the morning all in one, sun-bursting in your mouth!
I used fresh mandarin oranges for the bars, but you can use any fresh oranges that you like best. We get lots of mandarins here in Sacramento, so they’re almost always readily available. Naval oranges would be great too! Skip the OJ with breakfast and have an orange dream bar instead… 🙂
Orange Dream Bars
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (248g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (119ml) fresh squeezed orange juice
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 ½ cups (150g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (31g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- Powdered sugar for topping
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13” pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Beat butter with a hand or a stand mixer until creamy, then add the flour, sugar, and salt and beat until a dough forms. (If you’re using a hand mixer it will take extra time.) Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 18 minutes.
- A few minutes before the crust comes out of the oven, prepare the filling. Place all filling ingredients into a blender jar and blend until smooth, a few seconds to almost a minute, depending on your blender. You can also do this with a whisk in a large bowl.
- Carefully pour filling over evenly over hot crust. Return to oven and bake until the top is no longer jiggly, about 20-23 minutes. Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and slicing into bars.
- Don’t strain the fresh squeezed juice – that pulp adds flavor!
- The orange extract is essential here to amp up the orange flavor.
- Use your favorite oranges! For the zest be sure to use at least 1 tablespoon (or more if your orange is larger).
- Make sure your crust is compacted firmly. Any holes in the bottom can cause the filling to leak through, ending in upside down bars. This is not usually a problem with shortbread crusts like this one (it happens more if you’re using a cookie crust) but just in case it happens, that’s why.
- Want a crunchier crust? Bake it for 22 minutes before topping.
Last Updated on December 28, 2021