Endless Summer Lemon Bars

I’m having a hard time getting into the feel of Autumn this year. After all, yesterday it was 90 degrees here, with a heat index of almost 100! Personally, I’m a “seasons” kind of girl. Summer is wonderful, but I love Autumn, Winter, and Spring, and I’ll be missing them very much while we’re still in the Virgin Islands.

I’ve tried just about everything to get into a Fall kind of mood, including hanging my Halloween decorations almost a full month earlier than usual, but all to no avail! It’s endless summer here, and it’s even affecting my taste buds! I mean just look at what I chose to make the other day:

Sweet Lemon bars

Lemon bars. Lemon. In September. I’m lost. But I gotta tell you something… I wouldn’t waste these little beauties on a trail that leads home, no matter what the season!

My favorite thing about these is that they’re easier than they look. I used to think things that had a custard or curd, and were layered, like this, were labor-intensive and took all day to set up. That’s a myth, big time! As long as you have a fine mesh sieve, you can have these mixed, baked, and cooling in 45 minutes or less (minus chilling time for the dough)!

My favorite thing about how they taste, though, is the smooth, creamy lemon curd. I could eat the stuff my the bowlful, but the crust is something special on it’s own, too! Rather than just a plain crust, this one is basically a giant shortbread cookie. It’s easy and fast to make, and comes out mild, crisp, and flaky. It’s the perfect contrast to the soft, tart lemon filling.

I promise that I have some fun Autumn treats ahead, especially for Halloween, but for now…join me in my endless summer, won’t you?

The crust is so simple, it only has four ingredients: salt, confectioners’ sugar, unsalted butter, and all-purpose flour. The butter should be soft, but still cool.

Start off by cutting the butter into small chunks and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sugar, salt, and flour with two or three pulses. Evenly distribute the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse a few more times, until the mixture looks like coarse sand (there will be a few large butter chunks still, but that’s ok).


Using the same technique from the white bread post, line a nine inch square baking pan with parchment. I used a square cake pan, but a glass baking dish works great too. If necessary, spray the pan lightly with cooking oil to help the parchment stick. Pour the flour mixture into the baking pan.


Evenly press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and chill the dough for 30 minutes. Once chilled, bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Don’t remove the crust from the oven just because the “right” amount of time has passed. Make sure that you bake it until it is golden brown. If you remove it from the oven to soon, it won’t be crisp enough to bake with the lemon curd and may get soggy.


While the crust bakes, make the lemon curd for the filling. You’ll need unsalted butter, heavy cream, two whole eggs and seven egg yolks, finely grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar.

In a medium glass bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the whole eggs until combined. Add the lemon juice, zest, and a pinch of salt and mix until just combined. Add the sugar and whisk until combined, then pour the mixture into a small saucepan set over medium heat. Do not use copper or cast iron when cooking lemon recipes. Stir the mixture constantly until it thickens and reaches about 170 degrees (mine was actually ready at 160 degrees). This should not be as thick as pudding, but rather more like a sauce.

Remove the curd from the heat and pour into a fine mesh sieve set over a clean glass bowl. Use a spoon to help push the mixture through the sieve, if necessary. When you’re done, you’ll have all of the zest leftover, and maybe small bits of egg that cooked and separated on the heat.

Pour the lemon filling onto the warm crust, making sure it reaches the edges. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the center of the filling jiggles lightly when shaken. Move to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature before removing from the pan.

To remove from the pan, gently pull the parchment edges, making sure that all of the sides, as well as the bottom, are loose, then gently lift everything out of the pan and place on the cooling rack.


Place a quarter to a half cup of confectioners’ sugar in your handy dandy sieve (or a sifter).


Gently tap the side of the sieve to dust the top of the lemon with sugar.


Don’t hold back! Not only does this taste great, but it looks beautiful, too. Not to mention that it’s just plain fun to do! Don’t stop until every last bit is completely covered in sugar.

To serve these, gently slice them with a sharp knife, wiping it off between cuts. They are a slightly fragile if you serve them right away, so be kind to them.


If you like a slightly thicker crust, like mine, you can use an eight inch pan, rather than nine. This is one of those treats that, if you could get everyone to try one, they would all fall in love immediately. Go, make these, and have fun sharing them! Enjoy!



Lemon Bars

Makes one 9-inch pan

Ingredients

FOR THE CRUST
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, but cool, cut into small pieces

FOR THE FILLING
7 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1 slightly heaping cup sugar
2/3 lemon juice
1/4 finely grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream

To make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sugar, salt, and flour with two or three pulses. Evenly distribute the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse a few more times, until the mixture looks like coarse sand.

Using the same technique from the white bread post, line a nine inch square baking pan with parchment. If necessary, spray the pan lightly with cooking oil to help the parchment stick. Pour the flour mixture into the baking pan.

Evenly press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and chill the dough for 30 minutes. Once chilled, bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and the whole eggs until combined. Add the lemon juice, zest, and a pinch of salt and mix until just combined. Add the sugar and whisk until combined, then set over medium heat. Add the butter pieces and stir the mixture constantly until all of the butter melts and the mixture thickens and reaches about 170 degrees.

Remove the curd from the heat and pour into a fine mesh sieve set over a clean glass bowl. Use a spoon to help push the mixture through the sieve, if necessary. Stir in the heavy cream.

Pour the lemon filling onto the warm crust, making sure it reaches the edges. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the center of the filling jiggles lightly when shaken. Move to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature before removing from the pan.

To remove from the pan, gently pull the parchment edges, making sure that all of the sides, as well as the bottom, are loose, then gently lift everything out of the pan and place on the cooling rack.

recipe adapted from Baking illustrated

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Comments

  1. Lorelei says

    I just found your page today. First let me say that you are AMAZING (which I am sure that you already know)!!! I randomly chose an archive to review just to see browse around and this one came up. Oh my how I love lemon and these look outstanding. I cannot wait to try them and to check out your many other yummy treats and dishes! Kuddos to you my dear!!!! God Bless!