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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lemon Bars

Once upon a time, lemon desserts hated me.  I could never get them to turn out right...which was infinitely frustrating since I adore the tartness of lemon combined with a little sweet somethin'.  After some "fails" and disappointments and "eeehhh, it's ah-ight's", I was ready to try again.  And just to prove that I enjoy making things hard on myself, I decided to bake them to share with others.  So, if I failed miserably I would do it in a public arena.  Nothing like a little pressure to make things go smoothly.  

As it turned out, I didn't fail.  In fact, I triumphed colossally.  And off to school my triumph went.  For moms and kids to enjoy.  I made sure I snatch one...the last one I might add.  I'm odd like that.  I'd rather eat something that I baked and I know I will enjoy than grab some random food made by some random person.  What can I say?  These lemon bars were so great that I made another batch for home less than 48 hours after this giveaway batch.  I will also be bringing them to the next family get together (at mama's request...although I planned on it, anyway).  They're adapted from an Ina recipe in that I made using one and a half times the (awesome, shortbready) crust so that the base would be a bit thicker.  Also, instead of making a lip (which I did for the first batch), I prefer the crust and filling to be even (which I tested on the second batch).  Equal cookie and lemony custard in each and every bite.

And okay, I suppose I was being a bit melodramatic about the public humiliation.  I totally gave myself enough time to make a backup...should I have failed.

Lemon Bars
 makes: ~20 squares (or 40 triangles)

For the crust:
    ¾ lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ¾ c. granulated sugar
    3 c. flour
    ¼ tsp. kosher salt
For the filling:
   6 xl eggs, at room temperature
   3 c. granulated sugar
   2 Tbs. grated lemon zest (2½ fat lemons)
   1 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (3½ fat lemons)
   1 c. flour

   Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 x 13 x 2" baking sheet/pan (building up a ½" edge on all sides if you like...I made it once with the edge and once without...I prefer it without). Chill while the oven preheats to 350° F.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour.

Pour over the crust and bake for 35-40 minutes, until filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into squares or triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.