Tart, sweet, and tangy, these lemon bars have a tender cookie crust, a silken filling, and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar for an alluring contrast of tastes and textures.
We know you have a childhood recollection of lemon bars just like these. Tender cookie crust that’s not unlike shortbread. Silken and subtly sweet filling that’s just tart enough to make your eyes twitch. And that dusting of confectioners sugar as a final flourish. Except we’re gonna hazard a guess that these bars are better than the ones of your childhood. Just a smidgen smoother, more refined around the edges. But you don’t have to tell mom that. Originally published April 23, 2004.–Renee Schettler Rossi
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 1 H, 30 M
- Makes 16 bars
- For the crust
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 oz), softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for the baking dish
- For the lemon filling
- 7 large egg yolks
- 2 whole large eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup lemon juice (from 4 or 5 large lemons, preferably organic), plus 1/4 cup finely grated zest
- Pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 oz), cut into 4 pieces
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Confectioners' sugar, optional
- Make the crust
- 1. Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or generously butter it. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 9 inches wide. Fit 1 sheet in the bottom of the buttered dish, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the dish (overhang will help in removal of baked bars). Fit the second sheet of foil in the dish in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray or generously butter them.
- 2. In a food processor, briefly process the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt to combine. Add the butter and process until blended, 8 to 10 seconds. Then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared dish and press it firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire bottom of the baking dish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- 3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
- Make the filling
- 4. In a medium nonreactive bowl, 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 and whisk until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium nonreactive saucepan, add the butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin and saucey consistency and registers 170°F (76°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour the lemon mixture through a single-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a clean non-reactive bowl, add the heavy cream, and stir until no streaks remain.
- Assemble the bars
- 5. Immediately pour the lemon filling into the warm crust and bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the filling in the center portion of the baking dish jiggles slightly when you shake the edge of the baking dish, 10 to 15 minutes. Let the bars cool in the baking dish on a wire rack until room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the dish using the foil or parchment as handles and transfer everything to a cutting board. Cut the lemon bars into 2 1/2 inch squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts as necessary. Just before serving, dust some confectioners’ sugar over the bars.