Saturday, July 5, 2014

Favorite Lemon Bars

Favorite Lemon Bars dessert
Favorite Lemon Bars
I've shared this recipe before with a coconut variation, but here it is again in its pure and simple form. After making these for work, I'm reaffirmed that they really are my favorite lemon bars.  I doubled the recipe this time and baked it in a 9x13 pan.  The crust to filling ratio comes out to 1:2 and I think it's a great balance.

Lemon Bar crust filling ratio
1:2 crust to filling ratio
The shortbread crust maintains its crunch and doesn't fall apart or crumble under the weight of the lemon filling.  I did notice that the batter for the crust was quite wet (it uses melted butter as opposed to cutting in cold butter like other recipes) and I almost thought I did something wrong.  Upon baking, I could even see bubbles of hot air escaping from the crust.  Don't worry, though, if you see these similar signs since the finished product at the end turns out great!  This lemon bar is especially "lemony" due to the quantity of real lemon juice used - 1 cup for this double batch!  I cut out some sugar from the original recipe and didn't notice too much of a difference, but I also like my lemon bars to be more tart.
Lemon bars 9x13 pan
Lemon Bars
Favorite Lemon Bars
Makes 32 pieces

16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
3 tsp finely grated lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
1 cup strained fresh lemon juice
Powdered sugar to top, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a 9"x13" square pan along the bottom and up all 4 sides with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Crust: Cut butter into chunks and melt in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla, salt, and zest of 1 lemon. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Dough will likely be more wet than expected.  Bake for 25-30 min, or until the crust is well browned at the edges and lightly browned in the center.
  3. Filling: While the crust is baking, stir together the sugar and flour in a medium bowl until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300 F and slide the rack out without removing the pan. Pour the filling over the hot crust. 
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the topping is puffed at the edges and no longer jiggles in the center when the pan is tapped. Set on a rack to cool completely in the pan. 
  5. Lift the ends of the foil or parchment liner and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 32 2"x2" bars. Sprinkle tops with powdered sugar before serving.  May be stored, airtight, in the fridge. Lemon bars keep well for about 3 days; after 3 days the crust may soften but the bars still taste quite good for the remainder of a week.

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