Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lemon Square Bars

(Update 3/20: I made these bars again and snapped a picture -- however, it probably doesn't do these bars justice!)
These lemon square bars were good. SO good. In fact, I made both these bars and a Cook's Illustrated brownie recipe to bring to my grandmother's house for dessert.  Although I love chocolate and the brownies had a pretty perfect fudgy and chewy texture, I have to say the lemon bars won by a hair (luckily, just not one of my hairs).

These lemon bars are the right amount of sweet, tang and lemon-y goodness. The shortbread crust also goes perfectly with the lemon topping.  I was able to use lemons straight off of my coworker's tree (I have the best coworker who gives me wonderful produce from her garden). 

While this lemon bar recipe does take some time (the crust and then the whole bar have to chill in the fridge for a while), they are ideal for making ahead of time.  I made them the night before dinner with my grandmother which made life a lot easier. I also ended up halving this recipe by using a loaf pan instead of a square baking dish. 

Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures of these bars but I will be happy to make them again to get a photograph.  I know, I know...the sacrifices I make.

Lemon Square Bars
Taken from: Once Upon a Chef
Serves: 16-20 (I halved the recipe using a loaf pan and got approximately 10 bars)
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup confectioners' sugar (plus more to decorate finished bars)
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (you'll need between 2 and 3 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon, be sure to zest before juicing)
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cover a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Push foil neatly into corners and up sides of the pan, using two pieces if necessary to ensure that foil overlaps all edges (the overhang will help removal from pan). Spray foiled pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Place the 3/4 cup of flour, corn starch, salt and confectioners' sugar in a bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and mix for a few seconds. Add the butter and mix to blend, until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds (it will feel similar to wet sand). Sprinkle mixture into prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire bottom, building up a thin ½-inch edge around the sides (this keeps filling from spilling beneath crust). Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Bake the crust until lightly golden, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. While crust is baking, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and flour.
  6. As soon as the base is baked, give lemon mixture a quick final stir and then pour over top. Immediately return the pan to the oven and bake another 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is set and firm. Let cool on a rack to room temperature, or at least 30 minutes, then cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to cut (it will be much easier to cut when cold).
  7. To cut, use the foil overhang to lift baked square out of pan and onto cutting board. Loosen the foil from the edges of the crust (use a knife to separate crust and foil if necessary). Cut into 2-inch squares. As an optional step (which I omitted), you can use a fine sieve to dust squares with confectioners' sugar. Store finished lemon squares covered in refrigerator and serve chilled.

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