It started with a discussion on Facebook, postulating on the conversion of Lime Bars into Mojito Bars through the addition of finely shredded mint, and some white rum in place of some of the lime juice. Those are still on the to-do list. What blossomed out of the discussion was an interest in creating a Margarita flavored bar cookie, so I set some goals and began scouring the interwebs for a good starting point.
There were two key things that I wanted to capture with the cookies - first, that they taste like actual margaritas, not just citrus bars with some tequila and second that they not devolve into total sweetness, but have a touch of saltiness to hold true to the original inspiration. Browsing various recipes from Google searching, I found several attempts to capture the saltiness by including crushed pretzels in the crust, but I'm a "purist" for shortbread style bases for my citrus bars. I found various recipes which took a basic lime bar, added a tsp or two of tequila, and called themselves a margarita bar. Nothing really totally suited what I was looking for, but I found a good starting point at Mermaid Sweets.
In order to capture a true margarita flavor, I knew I wanted more than just tequila in the mix. I decided on the addition of Triple Sec as well, but had concerns that the mixing with the lime juice and the baking would diminish the impact of the alcohols on the overall flavor of the cookie. I decided to finish the bars with a simple glaze, fortified with salt to get the flavor note I wanted, and providing a sweet/salty finish with a little graininess to match a salt-rimmed glass.
My adaptation of MS's recipe is as follows:
(adapted from Mermaidsweets.blogspot.com)
2 C Flour
1 C butter, frozen, cut into small chunks
1/2 C Confectioner's sugar
Combine all and blend in a food processor with quick pulses, or mix by hand with a pastry cutter or "two knives" method. Once combined, press firmly into 9 x 13" pan, and bake at 350° F for 20 minutes
2 C granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C lime juice
Zest of 4 limes
Zest of one orange
1.5 T tequila
1.5 tsp Triple Sec
Beat eggs and sugar until light in color. Add remaining ingredients and mix on medium speed until well combined. Remove crust from oven(when done) and pour filling over the crust. Return to oven for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until browned moderately on top.
1 C Confectioner's sugar
2 T Tequila
2 tsp Triple sec
1 T Lime juice (or until desired thinness for glaze)
1/2 tsp sea salt
Combine all in small bowl and whisk until smooth. Once bars are cooked and slightly cooled, pour glaze over top of surface, and spread evenly.
I found that the addition of the glaze really helped make these margarita bars instead of citrus bars. The alcohol cooked out of the filling for the most part, leaving a hint of flavor, but the glaze helped pick it right back up again. These are now "award winning" bars, taking Best of Division and Best of Show at the 2013 San Diego County Fair!