So my friend’s mom got a bunch of Meyer lemons, and was kind enough to share a big bag of them with me. Yummy lemony goodness. I now have a ton of lemons, and am in a huge mood for lemon. I’m so excited about having them and I keep trying different lemon recipes, trying to use them all. And yes, I know you can freeze the juice and zest, or the whole lemons, but I’m just so excited and I don’t want to wait!
My friend’s stipulation for bringing me the lemons was that I make her a lemon dessert. I was expecting a request of lemon meringue, which is a common request from her, but instead she asked for lemon bars. I’ve never made lemon bars before, but have always loved the intense lemon flavor and the delicate crust.
I decided to try the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, which is super easy and has powdered sugar in the crust. I have found crusts with powdered sugar to be a softer, crumbly crust compared to crusts with granulated sugar. The crust was delicious, although I had some trouble pressing the crust up the sides of the dish, but I think it may have been a personal problem. Next time I’ll just keep the crust on the bottom.
The lemon flavor was excellent, and the dusting of powdered sugar is optional, but it just seems naked without the sugar! All in all, they were a huge hit. Everyone loved them, and even a girl at work who doesn’t like lemon enjoyed them!
Perfect Lemon Bars
1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra to decorate finished bars
¼ cup cornstarch
¾ teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), at very cool room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1⅓ cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 2 large lemons)
⅔ cup lemon juice (about 3 or 4 large lemons), strained
⅓ cup whole milk
⅛teaspoon table salt
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish, or spray the pan with cooking spray, and line with one sheet parchment or wax paper. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over it.
To make the crust: Pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade. Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second bursts. (To do this by hand, mix flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Freeze butter and grate it on large holes of box grater into flour mixture. Toss butter pieces to coat. Rub pieces between your fingers for a minute, until flour turns pale yellow and coarse.) Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and press firmly with fingers into even, ⅓-inch layer over entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
To make the filling: Whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt to blend well. Make sure the filling is ready to pour onto the crust once it comes out of the oven.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Stir filling mixture to reblend; pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Carefully remove the lemon bars using the parchment or wax paper. Transfer to cutting board, fold paper down, and cut into serving-size bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts, as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over bars, if desired.
Source: Cook’s Illustrated, May 1998
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