Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cantaloupe Bars

I entered a farmers' market bake-off this weekend.  I didn't win, but I _did_ come up with a new way to eat cantaloupe.  The judges preferred a blueberry buckle to my quirky melon dessert, but it _is_ melon season and the markets are full of unusual varieties.  I've only recently become a melon lover, but they really are refreshing and "clean" tasting and I think their upgrade to dessert status is overdue.

I thought it would be fun to play on my beloved agua fresca flavors, and the result was a gorgeous melon-y curd paired with a tangy buttermilk/crunchy pepita crust. [The crust is a winner by itself; I've got lots of ideas for it.]  These bars are definitely more rich than my normal fair, so I suggest making them to share... at a Labor Day cookout, perhaps?
Recipe: Cantaloupe Bars
These are best cool or cold.  I made them pretty big, but you could also cut them into 1" petite fours -- they're surprisingly sturdy.  You could also turn it into a tart using a 2-piece tart pan [or mini-tart pans!], but you'll have excess dough and filling --a half recipe might be enough but I'm not sure-- and you'll need to reduce baking times.
 Choose a good melon by sniffing the stem end – ripe ones smell strongly of melon without grassy or vegetal undertones. You can substitute AP flour for the whole wheat and oat.  The buttermilk powder gives it a great flavor, but your bars will be acceptable without it.

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon dehydrated buttermilk powder
1 tablespoon yucca flour (tapioca flour) or cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) butter, diced, room temp
1/2 cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup puréed cantaloupe (1/2 a small melon)
juice of 1 lime (~1.5 tablespoons)
5 whole eggs, room temp
2 egg yolks, room temp
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon dehydrated buttermilk powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish [glass or metal] with nonstick spray and line with a parchment sheet long enough to hang over the long sides of the dish. [Just fold it at the corners, you'll cut away the ragged edges later.]

Sift together the crust’s dry ingredients, except pepitas, into a mixing bowl. Add butter and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until large clumps form. Add pepitas last and continue mixing until dough forms rough ball. [Add the pepitas last to keep them mostly intact; the oat flour’s low gluten content keeps the bars from getting too tough during mixing.]

Transfer to the baking dish and use fingers or the bottom of a cup to press dough into an even layer. Cover with another layer of parchment and weight with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes, remove weights and top layer of parchment and continue to bake another 10 -15 minutes or until top begins to brown.

 While crust bakes, whisk together sugar and flour until uniform, then whisk in melon purée and lime juice and continue to stir until sugar dissolves. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and salt. Set aside until crust is ready.
Once crust is lightly browned, whisk eggs into the melon mixture and pour directly into the crust. [i.e. open the oven and pull out the rack containing the crust far enough to facilitate this.] Reduce oven temp to 300F and bake another 35-45 minutes or until center of the curd barely jiggles.

Move bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool ~ 20 minutes or until pan is safe to touch. Holding the long sides of the parchment, lift bars out of the pan and transfer to another cooling rack [or set on a cutting board, move the pan, and return bars to cooling rack].
 Once bars are cool, sift together sugar, buttermilk powder, and salt, then sift the mix over the bars.* Use a long knife or pizza cutter to remove the sloped sides & discard (they’re usually too chewy) and cut into 18 equal~3”x~2” bars. The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temp for a day or in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

*The topping will dissolve as it sits, particularly if the weather's hot, so it can also be added just before serving.


  1. Paula ResterAugust 31, 2010

    Those Look Amazing.....

  2. Well, Paula, without coming to visit me, there's only one way for you to know if they _taste_ amazing, too...

  3. Philip SpeerSeptember 04, 2010

    I'm trying this tomorrow, great idea!! Should've won, you were robbed...