Grapefruit shortbread bars

Grapefruit and vanilla a winning combination!

Why does lemon curd get all the attention? Sure, it’s brightly coloured, tangy and delicious, but other citrus fruits make great curd too. I love these little orange tarts but these grapefruit shortbread bars are definitely my new favourites. If you can find them, use ruby red grapefruit for the best colour and flavour. The vanilla is optional but I can assure you it is sublime combined with grapefruit. If you fall in love with the combo, as I did, check out this great cocktail and also this tasty seafood dish. PS in case you’re wondering where the gorgeous crystallized violets came from, I got them from Ottawa Edible Flowers.

Tangy grapefruit and vanilla custard layered over a shortbread base make for a truly delicious dessert


Shortbread crust

  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) white (granulated) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) cold, salted butter, cut into 12 pieces

Grapefruit-vanilla curd

  • Zest of 1 large grapefruit
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) white (granulated) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) salted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 drop pink or red food colouring (optional)


  • Make shortbread crust by preheating oven to 350F. Line an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for ‘handles’ on each side.
  • Make crust by combining flour, sugar and butter in a large bowl. With a hand or stand mixer, beat together until crumbly.
  • Press crust firmly into the parchment-lined pan. Bake for 15 minutes then remove pan from oven but leave oven turned on.
  • While crust is baking, prepare grapefruit-vanilla curd. Start by combining zest and sugar in the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl placed over a pot of steaming water – just be sure the bottom of the bowl rests above the water level). Stir vigorously so sugar gets infused with oil from the zest.
  • Add grapefruit juice, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla bean paste to the zest-sugar mixture. Whisk until smooth. Continue to whisk constantly as the mixture heats up and thickens (about 6 – 8 minutes).
  • When it has thickened to a pudding-like consistency, remove from heat and whisk in the butter pieces one at a time until melted and fully incorporated. If you want a more vibrant colour, whisk in one drop (no more!) of food colouring.
  • Pour grapefruit curd over baked shortbread crust.
  • Return pan to oven, baking for 16 – 20 minutes until curd is set.
  • Let cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator, cover pan and chill until very cold, at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight.
  • Just before serving, slice grapefruit bars into 1 x 2″ bars and dust with powdered sugar if desired.
  • Store covered bars for 4 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Makes 32 bars.

Grapefruit and vanilla curd on a shortbread base made for a truly delicious dessert

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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