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 and more refined around the edges. (But you don’t have to tell mom that.) Originally published April 23, 2004.–Renee Schettler Rossi
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.
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.
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
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
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.
I made these lemon bars for The One's family when they were spending some time with us this summer.
Confession time: I haven't made lemon bars in more than 25 years. Yeah, yeah, I know. How could I have gone all that time bereft of lemon bars? I don't know exactly. But I will make these lemon bars again. And soon.
The dough makes a lovely cookie-type crust. I added a few tablespoons of vanilla extract because I put my homemade vanilla in just about everything. It lent a subtle, seductive vanilla scent and flavor to the bars. I wanted to crumble that crust dough and rub it all over my body, but I resisted the impulse.
Also, I used an 8-by-8-inch square pan--I don't have a 9-by-9, and I really don't see the need to buy yet another thing. The timing of the crust and curd was the same as stated in the recipe.
And did I mention they're a cinch to toss together?
My only suggestion would be to remove the entire dessert from the pan, place it on a cutting board, and then refrigerate the whole shebang before cutting. It'll hold up better. Of course, what to do with those squares that just happen to crumble because they were too warm? Well, I wonder. I wonder, indeed.
Share this ArticleLike this article? Email it to a friend!