This cookie bar has a citrusy layer, then a creamy layer atop a crunchy shortbread bottom, resembling a creamsicle. This is not a quick mix-up-and-bake recipe. It takes awhile, but, in the end, you're glad for the time you spent (you can do things in between steps like whip up a different kind of cookie or take a nap...zzzzz).
Ingredients: Crust: 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, pinch of salt, 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Orange curd filling: 2 eggs, 4 egg yolks, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or refrigerated kind), 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or from a carton), 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened. Topping: 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, orange food coloring (3-4 drops of yellow plus 1 drop of red).
Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil so that the foil extends 2 inches beyond two opposite sides of the pan; spray foil with cooking spray.
Place flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor and process until blended. Scatter the pieces of butter over the mixture and pulse 6-8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Process until the mixture forms large clumps and holds together when pinched between two fingers, 15-20 seconds. If you don't have a food processor, you can place dry ingredients in bowl; add butter pieces and blend with pastry blender until you get the same results.
Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and pat into an even layer. Using a fork, prick the dough at 1 inch intervals. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven to cooling rack and allow to cool completely. (time for that nap...)
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl (I used a plastic strainer); set aside. In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the eggs, yolks (use the whites for a meringue cookie-see Cookie Recipe #11 or #44), and sugar until blended. Stir in the citrus juices, orange zest, salt, and butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constrantly, until the mixture thickens, 7-8 minutes (do not let the mixture boil, or it will curdle). Immediately strain the mixture through the sieve, pressing it through with a rubber spatula.
Transfer 1/4 cup of the curd to a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate. Scrape the remaining warm curd onto the cooled crust and spread it into an even layer. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until the curd is cool. (Nibble on a couple of yesterday's shortbread cookies while waiting, to keep up your energy level).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the sour cream, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla into the reserved orange curd. Transfer 1/4 cup of the topping to a small bowl and set aside. Scrape the remaining topping over the cooled orange curd layer and spread it evenly.
Add a small amount of food coloring to the reserved 1/4 cup topping, just enough to turn it a pale orange. Place this mixture into a small sealable plastic bag. Snip a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners of the bag and pipe the colored topping in any design you like over the bars.
Bake the bars 10 minutes, just until the topping is set. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely, then chill in refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to a day).
Using a thin sharp knife, cut the bars into 16 squares, wiping the blade clean after each cut. Serve chilled.
Makes 16 squares and can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days or may be frozen for up to a month.
"The Good Cookie" by Tish Boyle, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, in 2002.