I love lemon. On chicken, on fish, on greens, on pasta, in tea, IN DESSERTS, it just seems you can't go wrong. And lemon bars, rich and creamy, lemony (which may sound redundant, but such genuine lemon flavor is not always present in lemon desserts), not-too-sweet, refreshing served chilled, surprisingly good served slightly warm, seem like the perfect summer-y dessert. Also, their lemon-custard like filling is reminiscent of my great aunt Lossy's lemon pie.
I brought these to an outdoor movie event in a park near my apartment. They were a great snack to pass around and share.
The recipe I used, from Baking Illustrated, is the best I have found so far, relatively easy to make, very quick, and hard to mess up so long as you manage your time well. What really impressed me is how well they kept after a couple of days in the fridge- the crust stayed crunchy and not a bit soggy. I suggest preparing the filing ingredients (squeezing the lemons into a bowl, cracking the eggs into a separate one, zesting the lemons, etc) while the crust chills, then waiting until the last 6 minutes of the crust's pre-cook to assemble the steps for the filling, as the recipe stresses that both the crust and filling should be warm when combined.
From Baking Illustrated: The Practical Kitchen Companion For The Home Baker
by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine
For The Crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (plus more to decorate)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter- softened slightly and cut into 1-inch pieces
For The Filling:
7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup juice from 4-5 lemons, plus 1/4 cup finely grated zest
1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
For the Crust:
1. Line a 9" square baking pan with parchment paper, folded or cut to fit, one piece lengthwise, and another laid in perpendicular to that, with at least an inch or two extra hanging over the sides of the pan to aid in lifting out the lemon bars later.
2.Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. pulse a few times until combined.
3.Add the butter and pulse a few more times, until the butter is broken up, and the consistency of the mixture is a bit like course grain.
4. Dump the mixture into the bottom of your lined baking pan, and press it flat against the bottom of the pan.
5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Pre-bake the crust for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
For the Filling:
1. In a medium glass or stainless steel bowl,whisk together the egg yolks and whole eggs until combined, only about 5 seconds.
2. whisk the sugar into the egg mixture, then add the lemon juice, zest and salt, and whisk again, 5 seconds.
3.transfer the mixture into a saucepan over medium heat, and add the butter chunks.
4. Stir constantly for 5 minutes until butter is completely dissolved.
5. Pour immediately through a strainer into a clean glass or stainless steel bowl.
6. Mix in the heavy cream.
7. Pour the filling mixture into the (warm) crust, then bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
8. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar once the filling has cooled.