Thursday, January 6, 2011
Lemon Lust Bars
My parents’ friend, Tommy, brought over a bag of citrus fruit while I was home for the holidays. Tommy’s yard is full of citrus trees and he had a banner crop this year. I quickly swooped in and claimed the bag of Meyer lemons and grapefruit as my own. Mom protested a bit but I didn’t take no for an answer. I figure she has easy access (he lives in the neighborhood) and can always stop by and pick more fruit so I didn’t feel too bad.
With extra large, beautiful Meyer lemons on my hands, the hardest part was figuring out what to make with them. I had a number of ideas but finally settled on lemon bars and preserved lemons to ensure maximum usage and no waste. I’m still reveling in Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café and Joanne’s recipe for Lemon Lust Bars jumped out at me- in no small part because I love any and all lemony desserts and I’m a sucker for marketing. Adding “lust” to the title was a brilliant move on her part. Of course I had to make them just to see if, indeed, they were lust worthy.
People, they are!
Now that I’ve put the Meyers to good use, I’m searching for recipes in which to use the grapefruit. I never took to grapefruit and don’t usually eat them, however, I don’t want Tommy’s hard work and such beautiful specimens to go to waste. If you have a dessert recipe you like that uses grapefruit, shoot it my way. In the meantime, I’m still digging…
Lemon Lust Bars
adapted from Joanne Chang’s recipe in Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café
Because I had to ration my Meyers, I made a smaller pan of bars than Joann’s recipe calls for. I used an 8 x 8 inch pan and halved the ingredient quantities, which worked fine. I’ve included the quantities here per the original recipe because these babies are so good, you’ll want all you can get! The shortbread crust is rich and buttery and the sweetness of the Meyer lemons mellows the tangyness just a bit but not too much. These bars are still pucker worthy- so much so, you'll want to kiss Joanne for her delicous recipe.
1 c (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 T (75 grams) granulated sugar
2 T confectioners’ sugar
1 egg yolk
1 t vanilla extract
1 c (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c (120 grams) cake flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t kosher salt
2 c plus 2 T (500 grams) fresh lemon juice (I used 4 extra large Meyer lemons)
1/2 c (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 c (60 grams) heavy cream
4 egg yolks
2 c (400 grams) sugar
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
confectioners sugar for dusting, if desired
1. Line a 9 x 11 inch baking pan with two pieces of parchment paper, cut to fit and overlapping the sides of the pan. To make the shortbread, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (approx. 5 min) in a stand mixer using a paddle attachment. Scrape the paddle and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are mixed in. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes until combined. Again, scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. After all flour has been added, continue to mix briefly to ensure that the dough is evenly mixed. Don't forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl, form into a disk approximately 1 inch thick, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes until chilled. The dough should be firm but still somewhat pliable before working with it (dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month).
4. While the dough is chilling, make the lemon curd. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the lemon juice, butter, and cream and heat to just below boiling over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks and then slowly whisk in the sugar until combined.
5. Remove the lemon juice mixture from the heat and begin gradually whisking it into the sugar-egg mixture, a little at a time, until all of it has been incorporated.
6. When finished, return the mixture to the saucepan, and place over medium heat. While stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook for 5 to 8 minutes until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. When cooking, be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan frequently to prevent the eggs from scrambling. To test to see if the curd is done, draw your finger along the back of the spoon; you should be able to see your finger mark for a second or two before it fills in.
7. Take the curd off of the heat and, over a heatproof bowl, pour through a fine-mesh sieve to strain. Whisk in the salt and vanilla. (Curd may be prepared up to 4 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. If using chilled curd, add 5 to 6 minutes to the baking time.)
8. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack positioned in the center. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to approximately the size of the parchment lined baking pan. When the dough is the desired size, roll it over the pin to transfer to the pan. Use your fingers to press the dough into the corners of the pan, if needed. The dough should be approximately the same thickness all around.
9. Bake the shortbread until light brown, approximately 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and pour the lemon curd on top. If needed, smooth the curd with a spatula.
10. Return the pan to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the curd has set and is firm when jiggled. Allow the pan to cool on a wire rack, then place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to overnight to ensure that the curd is fully set. Place plastic wrap over the top so that the lemon bars don’t take on any refrigerator smells.
11. To cut the bars, lift up the overhanging pieces of the parchment paper to loosen the shortbread from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Remove the parchment paper. For a cleaner look, trim off the edges. Cut into 9 bars. Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
recipe from Simply Recipes