Lamenting the winter through fruit deprivation is never wise as it can lead to serious case of the grumps, diet doldrums, and even, gasp, scurvy (okay maybe not, but you never know). People often seem to forget that citrus fruits are cold weather produce and forgo them during their peak season for fruits which exist in a different state (yes, I mean pie). So take advantage of this season’s best fruit, the ruby red grapefruit. Available nationwide and sent special from my homestate of Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. They even have them up here in chilly New England, although you’ll pay an arm and a leg for one, but it’s so worth not getting scurvy, you know.
I’ve been an avid grapefruit fan for as long as I can remember thanks to my Grandmother’s home in the citrus-growing Valley and my Father’s stalwart admiration for the fruit in its edible and drinkable forms. He has this particular way of eating a grapefruit that is so very peculiar I’ve adopted it as my way of eating grapefruits too. It might not actually be that interesting, perhaps everyone eats grapefruits in this manner, but nonetheless I like to think of it as a particularly Hysmith thing to do (that is our last name after all). I guess the interesting part is that after you’ve eaten all the sections and scraped every bit of pulp from the citrus membranes, you squeeze the emptied peel of any remaining juice onto your spoon sip by sip until all the juice is gone. All that remains is the conquered shell of half a grapefruit ( a whole one maybe if you’re feeling especially in need of vitamin C that day). It makes one feel so accomplished and sustainable, like eating from tail to snout, but in this case it’s just a harmless little citrus fruit.
But, if you’re not into eating so efficiently or if fresh grapefruits simply aren’t your thing, as they aren’t for many, you can always translate their sunny goodness into a baked good. And not just any baked good, but the grandmother of all citrus desserts: the bar/square. Sugar based crust, with a sugar-citrus curd, with more sugar topping, this bar/square quite definitely fits into the dessert category and satisfies a sweet tooth for days. There’s simply no substituting the sugar (it wouldn’t be a bar otherwise).
This recipe is a variation on my grandmother’s lemon square recipe that has earned her many a blue ribbon. I’ve switched out a few ingredients, added a few new ones, and updated the citrus variety. I’ve also recently discovered De Ruijter sprinkles from Holland and I’ve fallen in love. They are made with simple natural ingredients and sweetened with sugar and apple juice. They are technically called vruchtenhagel fruit which I think translates into “amazing fruit sprinkles,” but maybe not. Anyways, you can find them at specialty stores, larger groceries, or online in a myriad of colors and flavors including like a dozen different chocolate varieties.
Ruby Red Grapefruit Squares
makes one 8 x 8 inch square pan
1 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated rind of grapefruit
3-5 tablespoons cold water
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon grated rind of grapefruit
optional (but entirely encouraged) De Ruijter sprinkles
1. Set the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, powdered sugar, and grapefruit rind. Cut butter into flour, until the mixture resembles coarse, crumbly cornmeal (like making a pie crust).
2. Add a tablespoon of water, stirring in between each addition until the dough just comes together. Only use as much water as you need. With the bottom of a flat glass, press into parchment lined 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until barely set (not browned or baked solid).
3. While the crust is baking, combine sugar, eggs, baking powder, juice, salt, and grated rind, whisking until thoroughly combined. Pour curd mixture over hot crust. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of De Ruijter sprinkles and return to oven for 25-30 minutes or until the curd is set and the top is golden.
4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar while still hot. Top with more sprinkles and let set until completely cool before cutting into squares.
Keep those winter blues at bay with some simple citrus fruit and these lovely sunny sprinkles. Cheers!