Monday, April 28, 2014

Pucker Up & Say I Love You

Say hello to the holy grail of lemon bars.
Actually, a simple "Hello" doesn't really do these babies justice. Something like, "Hey there, you sexy motherpucker!" would be more appropriate.

Sweet and rich, creamy and crunchy, and then a zing of sour that's so often missing from typical lemon bars. These are LEMON bars, not lemonish bars. These are IT.

I've tried a lot of lemon bar recipes over the years (including Ina's and Carla's), and while they've provided a road map to putting me on the right track, they never quite did it for me. They fell flat of that bright, tart, sour note that hits you in your cheeks and makes you salivate. I liked Ina's aggressive use of lemon zest and how Carla upped the salt ante for a more balanced flavor, but both recipes overpowered the lemon with too much sugar. I'm using 1/3rd less sugar without sacrificing flavor. I'm also adding pine nuts to the shortbread crust (thanks for the trick, Whole Foods!) - they add a great crunchy, yet creamy texture.

Cheeky Lemon Bars

For the crust
1/2 lb unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs lemon zest
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup pine nuts

For the filling
7 eggs
2 (scant) cups sugar
2 tbs lemon zest
1 cup FRESH lemon juice (5-8 lemons, depending on their size)
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 cup flour

confectioners sugar for topping

Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the vanilla and zest. Add the flour and salt and stir to combine. Stir in the pine nuts. Press the mixture into a 9x13" baking pan, then put the pan in the fridge or freezer while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, remove the pan from the fridge/freezer and bake 15-20 minutes until the crust just begins to turn light brown. Cool on a rack. Leave the oven on.

While the crust cools, zest your lemons and then juice them. Whisk the eggs, sugar, zest, juice, and salt together until well combined. Slowly and gradually whisk in the flour. Once the mixture is fully combined, pour it into the semi-cooled crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until just set. Cool to room temperature, then cut into squares or triangles. Dust the tops with confectioners sugar.

Keep refrigerated, but serve at room temperature for the best flavor.

No comments:

Post a Comment