Sunday, September 27, 2009

La La Lemon Bars

Nothing is better for an end of summer shindig than the sweet and zesty taste of fresh baked lemon bars. They capture the refreshing zest of a hot summer day and the tart lip puckering goodness of a chilly fall to come.

Lemon bars are usually quite a long task...create the shortbread crust, hand squeeze lemons to create the curd and bake it with the hopes that the top doesn't spilt open like a poorly baked cheese can take hours, but the result is always the reward. However, when I wanted to bake up lemon bars recently for a party that was taking place only hours away, I knew that I had to speed up the process somehow. So, I put together a fast bake curd of sour lemons, zesty rind and a crust so buttery and yummy one would never know the difference between these quick bake bars and my usual treat that could take hours to tame. 

The result was a burst of tart lemon and a cake like shortbread that had everyone licking their fingers and thinking about seconds.

1 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar (less if you want the bars more tart)
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed - about 4 lemons)
Grated rind of 2 lemons

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl, create the crust by combining softened butter, sugar, flour and salt.
3. Mix until combined (using your hands works great to really get the butter mixed in with the flour!) and press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan
4. Bake crust for apx. 20 minutes or until golden brown - when you remove crust from the oven, allow to cool before adding filling
5. To begin making the lemon filling, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1/3 cup flour
6. When the flour and sugar are combined, whisk in eggs, lemon juice and rinds
7. Pour over cooled crust and place back in the oven for 25 minutes - bars will firm as the cool
8. Once cool, dust top of lemon bars with powdered sugar 
9. Devour the lemon goodness!