Aperol Spritz Dessert Bars

Aperol liqueur is having its moment (as they say).  And the biggest part of the moment is the Aperol Spritz, which is a drink concoction combining Aperol, prosecco and soda, served with an orange slice.

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Now, I’m not a real big spirits drinker – I much prefer wine or beer.  But Aperol Spritzes are pretty refreshing and I thought they would maybe translate into a bar cookie, kinda similar to a lemon bar but, you know, super alcoholic.

I think these work!  But please let me know what you think.

Oh, and by the way – unlike a lot of recipes that have alcohol in them, when you taste these it will be very clear that NOT all of the alcohol burns off.  Suffice to say, these aren’t for kids.  And why should they be?  Kids get enough these days.

Ingredients

Crust

·        1 3/4 cups + 3 T flour (separated)

·        2/3 cup powdered sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on the bars at the end)

·        ¼ cup cornstarch

·        1 t salt

·        12 T butter, softened but not quite at room temperature – still a little firm

·        1 t vanilla

·        1 T milk

FIlling

·        4 eggs

·        1 1/3 cups sugar

·        1 T orange zest plus more for sprinkling on top

·        ¼ cup gin

·        ¼ cup Aperol

·        ¼ cup dry vermouth

·        1 ½ T corn syrup

·        1/3 cup milk

·        ¼ t salt

Directions

We’ll start with the crust.  In a bowl add the 1 ¾ cups of flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Whisk together until they are fully blended.  Next, add the butter and mix that in with a hand mixer until it’s well blended.  It won’t look like regular “batter” – more like sand and it’ll be moist to the touch.

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Spread the crust mixture onto the base of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish that you’ve lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with non-stick spray.  Use your fingers to press the dough firmly and evenly along the bottom and maybe a half inch up the sides.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden brown.  Take the baking dish out of the oven and set it on a cooling rack.  You’re not going to let it cool all the way though – now you’re going to make the filling.

 

First, lower the oven temperature to 325 while the crust is cooling.

In a bowl, put the eggs and whisk them.  Then add the sugar and remaining 3 Tablespoons of flour and whisk again until everything is blended.  Finally, add in the orange zest, gin, Aperol, vermouth, corn syrup, milk and salt and whisk one last time until that’s all blended.

Take that filling and pour it into the still-warm crust.

IMG_8065Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes, until the filling is firm to a light touch.

Take the dish out of the oven and put it back on the cooling rack and let it cool for at least a half hour.

img_8075.jpgAs its cooling mix some additional powdered sugar and some leftover orange zest in a small bowl.  I don’t have an actual amount here…kind of however much you want on top.

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Once it’s completely cooled, sprinkle the top with the powdered sugar/orange zest mixture.  Then, take the whole thing out of the dish by carefully lifting by the overhanging aluminum foil and cut it into bars and serve!

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