Tuesday, August 26, 2008

43. Lemon Bars (p. 691)

Ever since Kevin gushed about this recipe, I've been looking forward to making these lemon bars. And do you know what, he was right, they're fantastic!

The base of these bars is a simple shortbread made by pulsing together flour, sugar, cold butter and just a bit of salt. The result is a coarse meal that you press into the bottom of a baking dish. The Book calls for a nine-inch square baking pan. I don't have one (and neither does Kevin, so I wonder if it's an odd size?) so I improvised by using a rectangle pan with almost the same surface area (I knew that grade-school math would come in handy for something someday). The shortbread bakes in the oven for a while until "pale golden brown."

While the shortbread is baking, it's time to make the lemon custard. The Book's directions are simple ... perhaps too simple. All it says is "Whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, flour, heavy cream, zest, juice and salt in a bowl until combined." So, that's what I did. I just dumped all of the ingredients in a big bowl and started whisking away. The result was lumpy with little globs of eggy flour floating throughout. It took me a while to get it smoothed out. Next time I make these (and there will be a next time ... these things are great!) I'll add the ingredients one at a time to make sure that they all get incorporated evenly. The custard is poured over the baked shortbread and the whole thing goes back in the oven until the custard sets.

Once completely cooled (in the refrigerator for at least four hours), cut into 24 bars, dust with confectioner's sugar and enjoy. These bars were excellent. The shortbread crust was sweet and buttery with just the right density. The lemon custard was zesty without being too puckery, and sweet without being cloying. A perfectly balanced bar, and just the thing to end any springtime or summer dinner.

Date Cooked: August 16, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A

1 comment:

Melissa Bach Palladino said...

Ohhh yeaaaaah--these things rock. I gushed over them too. Jeez, I wish I had one right now!