Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lemon Bars

No one makes lemon bars anymore, and I am on a campaign to bring them back in style.  they are perfect for this time of year, when taste buds long for something light and springlike.   And lemons are still in season now.   Lemon bars make a great Easter dessert!  It's a simple recipe you can make from pantry items, if you are the type of person that always has a bag of lemons hanging around. I'm that kind of gal - fresh squeezed lemon juice tastes so much better than the bottled stuff. Plus, I learned from Cooks Illustrated that storing lemons in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag makes them last much longer than in the fruit bowl, so that's where I keep them.  They can last a month in there.  Plus, buying them in bulk is much cheaper than individually.  I weigh the 2 lb bags and pick the heaviest one I can find - usually I get at least 2 1/2 lbs for the same price as a handful of lemons.  

Making lemon bars allows me to use 2 of my favorite kitchen gadgets - a Microplane rasp and a citrus reamer....
Microplane rasp

citrus reamer
Hopefully, you already have these 2 beauties in your kitchen gadget drawer, but if you don't, I highly recommend both of them.   Need a little bit of Parmesan on your pasta?   How about some fresh ginger for your stir fry?   No need to haul out a heavy appliance - the rasp will make quick work of it and can be easily rinsed off and put away.   Come summer, make some simple syrup and keep it in a jar in the fridge - with the reamer, fresh lemonade is just a quick juicing away.  My teens make their own fresh lemonade all the time - we never use the powdered stuff.

Lemon Bars

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
6 eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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.
Press the dough into a 9 by 13 pan.

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 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Happy Easter!

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