317: Lemon Bars (Smitten Kitchen)
My friend Jen in St. Louis suggested I make and bring lemon bars with me when I went to visit, so I looked for a really good recipe. I finally settled on the Lemon Bars recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It took a little less sugar than the Ina Garten recipe it was based on.
I’m a huge fan of using the hand mixer to blend together the butter and sugar for shortbread, because it comes together so much more easily than trying to mix together the shortbread the traditional way (by hand). I put it into a 9×13 pan, and let it chill while the oven preheated. I baked the crust 15 minutes, then let it cool briefly while I made the lemon filling.
I have a lot of kitchen gadgets, but one thing I don’t have is a juicer. I had a few scrapes on my hands (which happens often as I work in the kitchen), so the last thing I wanted to do was try to juice lemons by hand to get 1 cup of juice. After I zested some lemons, I decided that I would cut away the remaining peel, blend them, and strain the juice. This actually worked out very well. It didn’t yield a full cup, so I made up the difference with bottled lemon juice. I didn’t have 6 extra-large eggs, so I used 7 regular large eggs instead. I needed a very large bowl to be able to whisk all of this together, and I didn’t feel like the whisk was doing a good enough job so I finished blending the filling with a hand mixer, just enough to get it well blended since I didn’t want to incorporate a lot of air into it. I poured the filling over the still-warm shortbread and baked it for 30 minutes.
I was skeptical about how they would turn out because the top looked a little bubbly when I took them out of the oven, likely from the air I incorporated into the lemon layer with the mixer. I thought that the top looked awfully cakey, rather than gooey. I was also concerned because the edges browned (as you can see in the picture above).
However, once I cut into them, all those concerns disappeared. They were delightfully gooey with a nice, thick layer of lemon curd. The lemon layer didn’t run off of the shortbread. The shortbread itself was yummy too, but it was mostly just a vehicle to eat the delicious, delicious lemon layer. I was incredibly happy with these.
I had sprayed the pan, but apparently not well enough, so the shortbread stuck to all the edges. Thus, every edge piece that I cut out of the pan only had half of its shortbread. Also, the edges browned (maybe burned? I haven’t eaten those bites myself), which I don’t think was supposed to happen. I used a metal (likely non-stick) pan, so I think I’ll use my glass pan next time, and perhaps line it with parchment paper to make sure that the shortbread comes out. I also wish that I had dusted the lemon bars with powdered sugar to make them prettier. Those are the only things I would do differently, though. This was a fantastic recipe. Definitely give it a try.