Saturday, January 26, 2013

Perfect Lemon Bars

I've kind of been on a lemon kick lately. They just seem so refreshing and bright, the exact opposite of these colder winter days.  A few weeks ago, I even used lemons to decorate my dining room hutch once I took Christmas decorations down.  Then, just couple of days ago our neighbor gave me a bag full of fresh lemons.  I was so excited!  I wanted to try a new recipe which called for fresh lemon juice.  I came across a recipe from Averie Cooks, and couldn't wait to try it!
Well, I have to tell you that they turned out to be the perfect lemon bars.  They were not too tangy, not too sweet.  Just perfect!  When you bite into these bars, you think you've just had a swig of fresh lemonade!  And the consistency was just right.  So here is the recipe:


For the Crust:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 heaping cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • pinch salt

For the Filling:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice  (if you don't want it to be too intense, I'd add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons).
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest 


For the crust:  Combine all of the dry ingredients.  Flour, confectioner's sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Then mix in the butter.  I just use my fingers, but feel free to use a food processor, or a pastry cutter.  Line a 8"X8" pan with foil, then spray the foil.  Pour the crust mixture into the pan and gently press it down.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 min.  You don't want the crust to brown (see picture below).  You just barely want it to seal together.  Remove from oven.

While the crust is baking mix the filling together.  Combine the eggs, granulated sugar, lemon juice and half and half.  Whisk until smooth.  Then add the vanilla, flour and lemon zest.  Whisk until all the little flour lumps are gone.  Pour on top of the crust and bake about 18-22 minutes.  The key here is that you want the filling to just barely set.  I was a little confused at first because it wasn't supposed to look like liquid at the top, but yet it could be jiggly.  At 20 minutes mine still looked a little liquidy to me.  I cooked it about 22 minutes, but it probably would have been ok at 20, now that I know what I am looking at.  (If you have made plenty of cheesecakes, you probably would be a better judge at this than I am.  :0)

Let the bars cool and then place in the fridge to chill anywhere from 3 hours to over night.  When it is ready slice yourself a peice sprinkled with powder sugar. Then sit back, close your eyes and enjoy the rich lemony flavor of summer!

These are definitely a new favorite at our house, and a perfect way to brighten up these grey weary days!

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