Monday, January 10, 2011

Lemon Bars with Buttery Shortbread Crust

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Shortbread Crust
1/3 c.  Icing sugar
1 c.  All-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 c.  Unsalted butter, room temperature

Lemon Filling
1/3 c. Unbleached flour
1 c.  Sugar
2/3 c.  Lemon juice (fresh squeezed from 2 - 3 small lemons)
Lemon zest from 1 small lemon
4  Large eggs
1 Egg yolk
salt pinch

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

For the crust, mix the flour and icing sugar together. Cut in the butter and mix to form a smooth soft dough.

Press the dough evenly onto the bottom of a 9x9" silicone baking pan (or a greased metal baking pan). Spread the dough up about 1/2" on the sides of the pan.

(For a uniform flat crust, line the crust with parchment paper and fill the bottom with pie weights.)

Bake the crust for about 20-25 min, until it is golden brown.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Mix together the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

Add lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir well to dissolve the sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk with a pinch of salt. Add the eggs to the lemon mixture. Whisk until well blended.

As soon as the crust is done, pour the lemon filling into the pan.

Reduce the heat to 300°F. Bake for about 25-30 min, until the center is just set.

Cool completely. Cover and chill in the refrigerator before cutting into squares. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

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My comments:

My hubby loves lemon treats.  He has been after me to make him some lemon tarts for weeks now.  I love my lemon tars but I've been making these for so long that I am ready for a change.  I've tried several lemon treat recipes before but they never turned out right.  It was either my fault for messing up the recipe or the recipe itself just didn't hit any spots.

When I came across this lemon bar recipe, it looked simple enough to do that I figured I had nothing to lose if they don't turn out.  So this afternoon while my kids were napping, I baked instead of participating in the family nap.  And I am glad I did.

While these are not the most tastey thing I've ever made, this recipe definitely has potentials.  I made a few changes to the original recipe, mainly reduced the sugar in the lemon filling by 1/3.  We like our lemon treats to be super lemony, more sour and tart rather than sweet.

My only complaint about this recipe is that I found the crust to be a bit soggy.  It could very well be my own fault.  I didn't use pie weights because I don't have any.  The baked crust was mostly flat except for a few spots where the crust bubbled up.  I thought I could flatten them with a fork, but instead, I made holes on the bottom.  Of course, I didn't noticed the gaping holes until I punctured all the crust bubbles, so when I poured the lemon filling onto the crust, the filling seeped under the crust.  Next time, I'll leave the bubbles alone.  It probably won't look as nice once the bars are cut but they don't affect the taste at all.

I will definitely make these bars again in the future.  I think they'd be delicious if topped with toasted almonds or coconut.  Tomorrow, I will test them out on my little guy.  I'm sure he'll love it since he pretty eats everything under the sun.


Day 2 Updates:

The lemon bars are not as soggy today.  Chilling the bars overnight made the crust (and the filling!) a little firmer.  I think my little screw-up with the crust bubble only partially contributed to the texture of the crust.  Perhaps next time, I'll make the bars in the evening and let them chill overnight in the fridge.  Making them in the afternoon is simply too tempting for me not to taste-test it on the same day.  :)

Oh! and my son LOVED the lemon bar.  :)  We all did.  I divided this into 16 bars and between 3 adults and 1 toddler, there is only 1 left in the fridge as of now.  That last bar will likely disappear in the next hour or so before my husband turns in for the night.  :)

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