Ooey gooey Creamy Calamansi Crumb Bars

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My friend Gilbert was telling me how he felt like a pig being slow-roasted under this Philippine summer heat. It’s no joke. After coming back from a cold 5-degree South Korean spring weather last March, the heat was more apparent than ever. I’m sitting in the office in front of my computer and the air-conditioning doesn’t even feel relevant. You don’t even have to move to sweat anymore!

Not even these bars manage to escape the heat wave. It’s frustrating how they don’t hold their shape at room temperature for too long because it’s sooooooo effing hot. My brother took it to school as a snack and when he opened the container during his break it was like a puddle of oats and thick cream.

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Nonetheless it was delicious, according to his classmates who also decided to serve themselves from the puddle. Well at least that’s something right?

Using calamansi for these bars make it feel a bit more local. If you will remember, I talked about calamansi a bit more extensively in this recipe (it even has a video, you guys, so check it out!) which I prepared for KitchenAid. and growing up with it, I learned to love calamansi a lot, whether in juice form or as a dip, but then I realised I haven’t made enough calamansi desserts.

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These bars have a really interesting composition to it– butter, oats, and flour, plus a bit of sugar, make up the crust. It reminds me a bit of soft oatmeal cookies. The crust at the bottom is flattened out, but for the top you sprinkle the mixture like a crumble to create something more textural.

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As for the filling, it’s basically just a mix of sweetened condensed milk and calamansi juice, with the egg yolks acting as the binder. The filling is not particularly thick, which is why it needs to set in the fridge after baking, and why it melts so quickly!

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These bars are really sweet thanks to the condensed milk, but at the same time the calamansi makes it fairly tangy too. Honestly it’s a little bit too sweet for my taste, but I still love taking small bites out of these bars because of how much the tang contrasts against the rich condensed milk. Plus that chewy oatmeal top-and-bottom crust gives it a nice bite.

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These Creamy Calamansi Crumb Bars are quite frankly a dream come true for those with a major sweet tooth but who love tangy desserts at the same time.

Calamansi Crumb Bars - Ooey gooey Creamy Calamansi Crumb Bars
Creamy Calamansi Crumb Bars
Calamansi Crumb Bars - Ooey gooey Creamy Calamansi Crumb Bars
Sweet and sticky crumb bars with a chewy top and bottom crust, plus some tanginess thanks to the calamansi. You can use lemon as well!

Makes one 8x8-inch pan
For the crumb crust
  1. 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  3. 1/2 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  7. 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the creme layer
  1. 1 (14 oz/396 grams) can sweetened condensed milk
  2. 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest*
  3. 1/3 cup fresh calamansi juice (or use lemon)
  4. 2 large egg yolks
  5. 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Make the crumb crust
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line one 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper.
  2. 2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, rolled oats, salt, and baking soda. Using a spatula, mix in granulated sugar and brown sugar, stirring until no clumps of sugar remain.
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  4. 3. Add melted butter and vanilla, stirring until mixture is evenly moistened and clumpy. Scoop half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of your pan and gently press into an even layer using a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until set. Remove from oven and set aside, but do not turn off the oven.
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Make the creme layer
  1. 4. In a clean mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, calamansi juice, egg yolks, and lemon extract until well blended.
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  3. 5. Pour mixture over the baked crumb crust and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle top evenly with the remaining crumb mixture. Be careful not to press the top crumb crust into the condensed milk so as to create clear layers once the bars are baked.
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  5. 6. Bake in preheated oven for 23 to 26 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. This won't completely set until it's cooled and refrigerated, so if it's wobbly that's normal. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature, the cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before unmoulding and cutting into squares. These are best eaten cold and don't really keep well at room temperature, so store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  1. *Calamansi zest is really difficult to grate, and since this requires quite a big amount of zest, I decided to use lemon zest as the original recipe calls for.
Adapted from Cooking Classy blog
The Tummy Train http://www.thetummytrain.com/
I started using calamansi as a substitute for the lemon desserts I’ve been wanting to try lately, and it seems like I’m on a roll. I can’t wait until the calamansi plant in our garden grows. More calamansi desserts in the future would be awesome!

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But first things first, I wanted to show you the difference between how the bars look when they’ve been kept at room temperature– literally I just took them out of the fridge to take photos and they melted on me!– and when they’re eaten straight out of the fridge. You can see below, they look like actual bars minus the melty filling, but if you prefer the gooey stuff, then let it sit for a bit before eating. It’s sticky though!

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