Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons

So it appears that my "week of asparagus" is not winning over any big time fans. In fact, it seems as though the whole thing has gone over like a lead brick. Rest assured, people. I am finishing this week up with a...dessert! No, not asparagus gelato. Lemon bars!

When it comes to little square dessert treats, brownies really take the cake, but a good lemon bar is hard to pass up. I mashed up a few recipes to come up with my bakery style version of a lemon bar. There is a substantial crust (adapted from Cook's Illustrated) and a significant amount lemon filling, (no wimpy layers!), from a Family Circle recipe that was meant for a 9 x 13-inch pan. The result is a pretty intense square of lemony goodness.

And I can't forget to mention the most spectacular pan ever that I discovered thanks to The Catskill Kiwi. Brownie and cake sheet pans with...removable bottoms! Dude, it will totes change your life. Forget lining your pans with foil or parchment. This is genius.

Lemon Bars

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more to decorate the finished bars
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 eggs
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. If you don't have a 9 x 9-inch pan with a removable bottom (see photo below), then fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 9 inches wide. Fit one sheet in the bottom of the pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan (the overhang will help in the removal of the baked bars). Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt in a food processor and process briefly. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. (Alternatively, mix the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt in a medium bowl, then add the butter, mixing it in with a pastry blender until the butter is well incorporated.) Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers, or the bottom of a sturdy glass or measuring cup, into an even layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Bake the crust for 20 minutes or until it is light golden brown.

4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the granulated sugar, flour, eggs and lemon juice until completely smooth. Immediately pour over the warm crust. (The filling must be added to the crust while it is still very warm.)

5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until no imprint remains in the filling when lightly touched in the center. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar. Run a thin knife around the edges, remove from the pan, then cut into 16 bars and serve.


stacy said...

No offense to asparagus, but I LOVE lemon bars. Love love love.

WendyB said...

I pity the fool who hates asparagus.