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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ultimate Lemon Bars

One of the many wonderful things I ate at home with my family this past week was lemon bars. I love lemon bars, but had never made my own before. My dad found this recipe and it really was wonderful. It was really lemon-y, but also sweet. It was smooth but also had a crumbly delicious crust. My only complaint was that it had a bit too much shortbread for my taste, so I have adjusted the recipe slightly to reduce the amount of shortbread crust… The new (and hopefully improved) recipe is below. Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe in Rose’s Christmas Cookies.
Shortbread Crust
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Lemon Curd Filling
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 
  • powdered sugar for dusting
Line the bottom of a 8x8 baking pan with aluminum foil, so that it measures 8 inches by 16 inches, so that you have overhang on two of the sides (for easy lift-out once bars are finished). 
To make the shortbread: Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes, set aside. In a food processor, blend the sugars for about 1 minute, until finely ground. Add the butter pieces and blend until sugar is incorporated. Add the flour and pulse until no flour appears, and there are moist crumbly pieces. Remove from processor and mold together with hands. 
Put shortbread dough in the prepared pan and press down evenly across the bottom of the pan. Use a fork to prink the dough all over. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until golden. 
Meanwhile….. start making the lemon curd………
Set up a strainer over a bowl.
In a heavy saucepan, mix the egg yolk and sugar with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the spoon, but not too thick to be unable to pour (about 6 minutes, or until it reaches about 196 degrees on a candy thermometer). Do NOT let it boil… if it starts to steam as you are cooking it, remove it from heat momentarily and then place back on the burner. 
Immediately pour the lemon curd into the strainer and press with the back of the wooden spoon until only the course residue remains. Discard residue and stir in lemon zest. 
Once shortbread is baked, pour the lemon curd over the shortbread and place back in the oven for 10 minutes, at 300 degrees. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool completely. 
Once cool, run a knife around the edges and lift the lemon bars out of the pan. Place on a hard flat surface and cut into desired shapes/sizes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve and enjoy!

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