Blood oranges are the shining jewels of a gray winter.
I fell hard and fast for blood oranges a few years ago. I happened upon them at my local Trader Joe’s and grabbed a whole bag, craving something fresh and bright during the dull winter months. It just so happened that a couple of days later we had one of the biggest snow storms Charlotte, NC had seen in years, essentially shutting down the city and leaving everyone stuck at home for a few days.
It should come as no surprise that I used my extra free time to bake (and binge watch Scandal) and started to experiment with blood orange for the first time. If I remember correctly I made baked donuts, but the most important part was that I was hooked on that sweet flavor and gorgeous color signature to the blood or moro orange.
It was about 2 years ago that I actually developed this recipe and have wanted to share it since. It’s a special one to me because, 1. I look forward to blood orange season every year and love thinking up new ways to highlight the fruit, and 2. because it was sharing these blood orange cookie bars with friends at a party 2 years ago that led to some amazing inspiration and support to start this blog!
Though I didn’t start The Mexitalian until some months later, and didn’t start posting regularly until some months after that, it was from conversations at that late winter party that finally gave me the push to start sharing all the recipes I had been developing and writing down for years.
These bars are easy, creamy, fresh, bright, citrusy, and colorful. They are great for any party but just so happen to be pink and perfect for anything Valentine’s or Galentine’s day! No matter who or what you make these for the bright and cheery blood orange slices on top are sure to cheer up even the darkest winter day.
Run to the store and grab some blood oranges while you can! You won’t regret it.
- 2 sticks butter, softened*
- ¾ c sugar
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 2 c all purpose flour
- ¼ almond milk
- 1 t baking soda
- ½ t baking powder
- ¼ t salt
- 3 blood oranges
- 1 8 oz. package cream cheese*
- 2.5 c powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- To prepare the sugar cookie, cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixture until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and almond milk, mixing until incorporated. Add the flour, baking soda, powder, and salt, mix until the dough comes together into a ball.
- On a parchment lined or greased baking sheet (mine was 10"x12") spread the sugar cookie dough out with your hands until and even layer covers the baking sheet. I recommend using flour on your fingers to avoid sticking. If necessary, smooth out the cookie dough with a floured rolling pin.
- Bake at 350 for 15 to 18 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting (at least one hour).
- To prepare the frosting zest one of the blood oranges. Juice the orange with the zest removed and one other. In a large bowl mix the cream cheese by hand or with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the blood orange zest and juice, mixing until well incorporated and pink in color. Gently stir in the powdered sugar, about ½c at a time until smooth.
- Spread the frosting on the cooled cookie in the sheet pan. Thinly slice the remaining blood orange with a knife or mandolin and place the slices to cover the cookie.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut the cookie into 24 bars. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve. Presentation is best when they remain in the sheet pan.
**If preferred, to save time use your favorite packaged sugar cookie dough, rolling it out to cover the sheet pan and following the remainder of the directions.