Friday, February 3, 2012

Grab Bag Friday: Lemon Bars

Okay, so I'm a little picky about my desserts. For example, I've never found a lemon bar recipe I was fully satisfied with. Until now.

This week, I tried a concoction I found on Leite's Culinaria, and if you have been looking for the perfect lemon bar recipe, look no further. Sure, it's more time-intensive than the boxed version, but this lemon filling is melt-in-your-mouth perfect: super fresh and not too sweet. The shortbread bottom uses powdered sugar instead of granulated which makes it a little bit softer, and if you let the edges of the crust brown, you get a crisp, delicious, butter crunch. Yum!

I made a few modifications to make things easier (and I rarely bake with salt, so I took that out of the crust, but left the pinch in the filling). I also made a few notes in the text of the recipe. If you want the original version of the recipe, please head over to Leite's Culianaria.

Melt-in-your-mouth Lemon Bars

For the crust
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more to decorate the finished bars
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the lemon filling
  • 7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice (from 4 or 5 medium lemons), plus 1/4 cup finely grated zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Confectioners sugar
1. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray (Note: I use butter for better flavor and texture).

2. Place the flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and process briefly. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. (Note: I did this by hand.) Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Note: I refrigerated for 15.)

3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20 minutes. (Note: I cooked it a bit longer until the edges were brown.)
4. In a mediumbowl, whisk together the yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and whisk until just combined, about 5 seconds. Add the lemon juice, zest, and salt; whisk until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan, add the butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency, about 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream; pour the curd into the warm crust immediately.

5. Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over the bars, if desired.

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