Have the Lime of Your Life with Margarita Desserts Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
“I think I’m going to order a margarita.”
I grinned as I said it, perched on the edge of a bar stool in the bar of Tampico’s Restaurant in New Iberia, La.
I was there for happy hour with two fellow teachers: Joey, who is now my husband, and Mike, who was the band director.
“Well, o…kay,” said Mike. “I’ll alert the media.”
“No, Mike, you don’t understand,” I said, leaning in to whisper, “I’ve never had a margarita before. I had my first glass of wine last weekend.”
Mike just turned around with a puzzled look on his face. Such an announcement in the heart of Cajun country was as shocking as it would have been for me to say, “I’m really from Mars, and right now, you’re coming back to the Mothership with me.”
I was raised in a dry house by parents who grew up in dry counties. My grandfather was an elder at church. So, I was a drinking novice. Mike, as a more experienced drinker, took on the role of mentor that afternoon.
“Okay,” he said, as he cleared a space before him at the bar in a business-like manner. Then, he pointed to a frozen margarita at the other end of the bar.
“You see that? You are not going to drink that. See how pretty it is? You don’t drink pretty drinks. You can’t taste the alcohol in pretty drinks and that’s what gets people into trouble.”
“No,” he said, “this is going to be your drink when you come here,” and he ordered me a top-shelf margarita, on the rocks. He then proceeded to teach me to never drink on an empty stomach and to always order and drink plenty of water. He said not doing those things were two other drinking mistakes.
I asked him if I could order Dr. Pepper instead. Later, he would just shake his head and say I was the only person he knew who drank margaritas with Dr. Pepper chasers. Top-shelf margaritas are still my signature drink, in addition to whiskey sours. They’re both strong enough to remind me I’m drinking and that always reminds me of Mike and the afternoon at Tampico’s when he taught me how.
This recipe has the flavor of my margaritas. A buttery shortbread crust incorporates fine pretzel crumbs to give a salty bite to these Margarita Bars. Be ready to spend a little extra time at the food processor to get the pretzels crushed until they have an almost whole wheat flour-like texture. The filling includes tequila, along with freshly-squeezed juice and freshly-shredded zest from the outer peel of the limes. Orange zest in the filling gives a hint of the flavor of triple sec. The bars are topped with a simple glaze that gives a slightly sweet, refreshing finish with another subtle reminder of salt. Friends and families were willing taste-testers and more than one person told me they felt transported to a tropical destination as they sampled these bars. Whip up your own batch for a summer barbecue, a lazy day by the pool, or just as a mini vacation in bite-size form.
The Pie Belle’s Margarita Bars
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup finely crushed pretzels
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons tequila*
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
pinch of Kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, crushed pretzels, powdered sugar, and lime zest. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is crumbly, with tiny bits of butter and no loose flour.
2. Dump the flour mixture into a 13 x9 pan; use your hands or a measuring cup to firmly press the crust into place. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 23 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour and baking powder; set aside. Use a whisk to combine eggs, sugar, lime juice, orange zest, lime zest, and tequila in a medium bowl; beat well. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and pour it over the baked crust.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Completely cool the bars, in the pan, on a wire rack.
5. To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, lime juice and dash of salt, using an electric mixer. Mix well until the glaze is smooth. Pour the glaze over the cooled bars and spread evenly across the top.
Refrigerate the bars and serve chilled.
*You may simply omit the tequila for a non-alcoholic version of these bars, or you may substitute 1 tablespoon of orange juice or lemon juice for the tequila.
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