I’ve baked  cookies,  I’ve baked cupcakes, I’ve baked pies, brownies and even (my nemesis) cakes.  But, I’ve never made any kind of “bar,” and that gap in my  knowledge of sweets was tempting me to bake some.  Plus,  they look like a lot of fun to prepare.  Profiting from my  online subscription to Fine Cooking, I found a recipe for lemon shortbread bars in the December 2006 issue:  it was simple enough for a first timer, with great reviews from the readers.   Lemon is my favorite flavor in desserts, which locked in my choice.    Indeed, they are amazing, even  mesmerizing to some…  😉

(Fine Cooking, Dec 2006, recipe by Nicole Rees)

For the crust:
Non-stick cooking spray or melted butter for the pan
7 oz. (14 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to just warm
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. table salt
9-1/2 oz. (2 cups plus 2 Tbs.) all-purpose flour

For the lemon topping:
4 large eggs
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. table salt
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar

Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with foil, creating an overhang for easy removal. Lightly coat the sides of the foil melted butter to prevent the lemon topping from sticking.

In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, and salt. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes (or freeze for 5 to 10 minutes), until the dough is firm. While the crust cools, heat the oven to 325 F.

Remove the crust from the fridge (or freezer) and bake until golden and set, about 30 minutes.

Make the lemon topping: in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour, and salt together until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest. Pour the topping over the hot crust. Return the pan to the oven and increase the heat to 350°F. Bake until the topping is set in the center and the edges are golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool on a rack for at least 1 hour. When the bottom of the pan is cool, lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars, sift the confectioners’ sugar over the lemon topping. Cut the bars into 2-inch squares.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Serve these bars at room temperature, but you can refrigerate them for several days without the crust losing its wonderfully crunchy texture.     After baking them the evening before, I put them in the fridge, covered with aluminum foil, and transferred them to room temperature 2 hrs before our lab meeting at 5 pm.   As soon as I uncovered the pan an enticing lemon scent filled the room , the best possible advertisement for the delicacy ahead….

It was a test of willpower to stop eating them!

ONE YEAR AGO:  Pizza Napoletana

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