There is never a shortage of food related occasions at my work and last week was no different EXCEPT that this time I decided that rather than making a last minute run to the store for Wheat Thins, I was going to make some delicious treats myself. And I can’t remember exactly why but I got lemon bars on the brain. It was one of those nagging urges that had to be fulfilled so I started googling, pinteresting and yahooing recipes. Lo and behold many people had my same issue with lemon bars- many are all sugar and no lemon. BLEH. So after some searching, I settled on a recipe I found on Pinterest from a blog called A Mingling of Tastes. With the title Lemon Lovers’ Lemon Bars, I knew I had a winner.
As many of you may well know, lemon bars are about the easiest thing in the world to make and take very standard ingredients you probably have sitting around the house. Somehow, I still managed to have some trials and tribulations on my first round but I attribute that mostly to my overly optimistic view of my blender as a food processor and my sister happening to call in the middle of what can only be referred to as an all too critical “butter stage” of the crust making. More on that later.
So without further ado, here’s my first crack at lemon bars.
Ingredients For crust:
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks and chilled (trust me, do not un-chill the butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
zest of 3 lemons
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
So I’m going to come clean right from the get-go and let you know that not only do I not currently have a food processor but I am also zester-less. Oh and and I did not make the lemon sugar the night before. Seriously, who has that kind of forethought?? If I want lemon bars, it’s not tomorrow that I want them it’sright now. So I had to make some improvisations and honestly, even though I had some hiccups along the way, they were no worse for the eating.
First things first. Put on some cooking music. I tend to go with Ella Fitzgerald At Her Best. If you screw something up, Ella is just crooning away the whole time so that even your mistakes feel somehow more elegant. Next I gathered my ingredients and set out to work. My helpful hubby graciously agreed to “zest” the lemons with our cheese grater while I cubed the butter. Once you have the zest, put it in your food processor (or in my case, blender) and really get it nice and finely chopped and blended into the sugar. If you are very organized and have a will of steel, you can just go ahead and stop here and cover and chill the sugar until tomorrow when all the flavors have had some time to mingle. Otherwise proceed with reckless abandon. [Sidenote: if I was not pregnant at this very moment, a lemon drop martini with some of that yummalicious lemon sugar around the rim would’ve been a nice lemony treat to indulge in whilst pulling together your lemon bar masterpiece.]
Next, set your oven to 350 degrees. Now take a glass baking dish and coat it in either cooking spray or butter. (I used butter and did a really nice thorough coat and the bars came out of the pan perfectly.) Take all of your crust ingredients and dump them in your food procesoor and blend it until the butter is in little chunks the size of peas. Now, if you do not have a food processor, DO NOT use your blender. The butter just kind of jams up the blades. For me, my sister called at this point and thus I delayed the blending experiment while we chatted for a while. Well before I knew it, the butter was way to soft so I decided I’d put it in the freezer for a few minutes to harden it back up while I went and helped my husband with a puzzle. And yes, I realize that we probably sound very boring right now but in fairness, I’m pregnant and it was a week night.
After 15 minutes at the puzzle I went back to retrieve the butter, sugar, flour situation from the freezer and discovered it was, wait for it…frozen. *sigh* Perhaps I should’ve thrown in the towel at this point but the lemony lemon bars were calling my name so I pressed on. I thawed the mixture in 10 second increments and finally got it into a workable consistency such that I could use my pastry cutter to finish the job that the blender started. From this point, you just dump that in your glass dish, press it into the bottom evenly and bake it for about 15 to 17 minutes. It’ll be light brown around the edges but still pretty whitish everywhere else. At this stage, and this is key, LOWER THE TEMPERATURE to 325 degrees.
Now for the the filling. Whisk together the lemon sugar, flour and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the lemon juice. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. You might look at your mixture and think that its seriously liquidy but don’t worry, its supposed to look like that. I double checked my recipe to make sure because I was expecting it to be thicker but it thickens up as it bakes. Pour the lemon mixture over the crust and bake for 28 to 33 minutes. The center should be set, but still gooey when poked with a toothpick. If you can control yourself, try to hold off any sampling for at least an hour. I burnt my fingertips trying to get a piece out of the pan right after I took it out and I don’t reccommend it.
After it’s cooled off, you just sprinkle your powdered sugar on there and call it a day. If you are lacking in the kitchen utensils department, as I clearly am, and don’t have a fancy pants sugar sprinkler/sifter thingee, just pour some powdered sugar in a glass, cover it with foil and poke holes in it. Done deal. Now it’s just eat and enjoy!