Lemon? Is this Nana Clare’s Kitchen? Yes, with a recipe for a wonderful lemon bar with a shortbread crust.
Step away from the chocolate and no one will get hurt…Really! For many of us, chocolate is our “go-to” food for snacking, desserts, brunches, cookies, bars – and perhaps main dishes, if we’re really honest. (Hello – mole sauce.) I even have hearty bread recipes that include cocoa and it makes me happy just to smell it as I’m adding the unsweetened powder to the recipe. But today we’re exploring the refreshing flavor of lemon.
To be very honest (because it’s Lent) I made these for a wonderful couple who won my pledge to bake in a live auction. (I’m not baking in a live auction – I promised that I’d bake later – during an auction where I made the promise. But I am lively while I bake. I can’t explain it today.)
I gave them a cookie and bar cookbook that was new to me so that I’d have the fun of trying some new recipes. But as I was making this one, it reminded me of a lemon bar that we used to make as kids.
I was going to compare ingredients, but now that I’ve organized all the “loose” recipes from a series of folders to a large file system, I couldn’t find the older recipe. Does this happen to anyone else? It used to be included in a huge double wide folder, simply called “sweets.” Then I got a bug to get organized and created separate folders for cookies, candy, bars, pies, cheesecake, cakes and the general term desserts. The problem is that the same recipe page may have had a pie and a bar recipe, along with bread and a salad. Who knows where it got filed? But I promise I haven’t lost my hot fudge sauce recipe. Oops – step away from the chocolate Clare.
Oh yes, this bar starts with a simple, crisp shortbread crust. Once it’s in the oven you make a lemon custard sort of topping and pour it on the hot crust and bake again to golden perfection. You won’t be disappointed. The recipe is taken from Esther Brody’s 500 Best Cookies, Bars and Squares. (I do have to wonder how many varieties she baked before she chose the 500 best?)
Ingredients for crust
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
Ingredients for Topping
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup flour (Yes, this is not a thick batter.)
½ tsp baking powder
Powdered sugar for dusting the bars when cooled.
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees
• Grease a 9 x 13 cake pan
• In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar until smooth.
• Gradually blend in the flour just until a soft dough forms.
• Press into the pan.
• Bake the crust for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.
• In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest until blended.
• Blend in flour and baking powder.
• When crust is done, pour the topping over it while it’s hot and put back in the oven.
• Bake another 25 minutes.
• The lemon topping will remain gooey.
• Let the bars cool.
• Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
• Use a tea strainer to sprinkle on the powdered sugar. Just fill the strainer with sugar and move quickly over the top of the bars until they are covered with a light dusting of sugar.
• If you dust the bars while they are still warm, the powdered sugar will melt.
Give these lemon bars a chance. The authentic lemon flavor is sweetened up as a gooey topping for the buttery crisp bottom.