I remember when I was younger watching my parents eat half a grapefruit for breakfast. I finally gave in to my curiosity and tried it myself only to discover that it wasn't anything special. It was just an ordinary somewhat sour fruit. Now that I'm an adult, I've turned into my parents and now crave grapefruits daily. There's just something about the tart citrus that is so refreshing. And so, in order to fully give grapefruit the attention it deserves, I decided to make a dessert with it. How do grapefruit curd cheesecake bars sound? Heavenly? I thought so too.
Grapefruit Curd Cheesecake Bars
- 1 tbsp grapefruit zest
- ½ cup grapefruit juice (125 ml)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar (135 grams)
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ cup butter, cut into small pieces (57 grams)
Lemon poppyseed graham cracker crust
- 1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs (125 grams)
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds (9 grams)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp brown sugar (27 grams)
- 6 tbsp butter, melted (85 grams)
- 1 lb cream cheese, softened at room temperature (452 grams)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup sour cream (120 grams)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Make the grapefruit curd. Combine the grapefruit zest and juice, sugar, and eggs in a heavy-bottomed saucepot. Whisk the mixture together until well combined. Heat the curd over medium-low heat. When the mixture starts to gently simmer, start adding the butter bit by bit, whisking constantly. Continue to simmer the curd until it begins to thicken, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer the curd to a clean bowl. Place plastic wrap directly over the curd, touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely. You can prepare the curd up to 3 days in advance.
- While the grapefruit curd is cooling, make the crust. Combine the graham cracker crumbs with poppy seeds, brown sugar, lemon zest, and melted butter. Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish to form an even crust. Par bake the crust for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- Make the cheesecake filling. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the egg before adding another. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined.
- Pour half of the grapefruit curd on the prepared crust. Pour the cheesecake filling on top to create one even layer. Place dollops of the remaining curd on top, gently swirling the curd into the cream cheese filling with a spatula.
- Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour - 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the edges have set and the center is slightly jiggly. Turn off the oven and slightly open the oven door ajar, letting the cheesecake gradually cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely at room temperature. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Slice into bars and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I experimented with many different grapefruit bar recipes but the one that really shined were these grapefruit curd cheesecake bars. Take ultra-creamy cheesecake, pair it with a lemon poppyseed graham cracker crust, and swirl in homemade grapefruit curd and that's what you have here.
To make the grapefruit curd, all you need is grapefruit juice and zest, sugar, eggs, and butter. Do not use bottled grapefruit juice to make the curd, the quality is nowhere near the same!
Heat the grapefruit zest and juice, sugar, and eggs in a heavy-bottomed saucepot, whisking all of the ingredients together. When the curd starts to simmer, start adding little bits of the butter while whisking constantly. By adding the butter in small amounts and waiting for them to melt before adding more, you are emulsifying the ingredients. This will yield a rich custard, just what we need for this dessert. Once the curd begins to thicken, transfer it to a clean bowl and let it cool completely. You can make the grapefruit curd several days in advance.
While the curd is cooling, make the lemon poppyseed graham cracker crust. I wanted to continue with the citrus theme so I decided to add lemon zest to the crust and a touch of poppyseeds for texture. Par bake the crust in the baking dish until lightly browned and let it cool completely.
Now for the cheesecake filling. The cheesecake filling is fairly a standard cheesecake recipe, using cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and sour cream. My best tip for making the filling is to use room temperature cream cheese and make you really take the time to beat it with the sugar until it's creamy. No one likes a lumpy cheesecake!
Pour half of the grapefruit curd in the prepared crust followed by the cheesecake filling. Then, place dollops of the remaining curd on top and use a spatula to make swirls. I used to use a knife to make the swirls but quickly discovered that the cheesecake would always crack where I made the swirls. Lesson learned: use a spatula.
Bake the grapefruit curd cheesecake bars in the oven for about 1 hour or until the edges have set but the center is slightly jiggly. I like to let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door slightly opened to prevent any cracks from forming. The gradual temperature decline helps rather than taking it straight out of the oven to cool.
Like all cheesecakes, let the bars cool completely, preferably overnight, before slicing and serving. If you want to get extra fancy, top the bars with whipped cream and fresh grapefruit segments. The fresh fruit is a lovely contrast to the creamy bars.
So did these grapefruit curd cheesecake bars deliver? I strongly believe so! The creamy cream cheese with slightly tart and bright grapefruit curd complement each other beautifully and that crust! There is no question that these will be returning on the menu soon.