Lemony lemon squares.
If you aren't a huge lemon-dessert-kind-of-person then you may be rather annoyed with my current obsession. However, I would encourage you to make these for the lemon-dessert-kind-of-people you know. These are really easy to make, and they make for cute gifts. I love how the dusting of confectioner's sugar looks on these bars.
I found this particular recipe in My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur by Romney Steele. This book was another gift from my parents. What can I say, they know I love cookbooks. The book in and of itself is great - giving a perspective on California cuisine from the vantage point of Nepenthe restaurant in Big Sur. I love the stories of family, Hollywood, and art that surround these simple yet elegant recipes.
The first step to these bars is making the shortbread crust. The ingredient list is short - flour, butter, confectioner's sugar, and a pinch of salt. Pulse it together in the food processor, press it into a pan, and it's ready for the oven. The buttery crust is a nice complement to the tart, bright filling.
Mixing the lemon filling.
The filling is almost as easy, with the added grunt work of squeezing a couple of lemons. Make sure to zest your lemons first! I used Meyer lemons, because they are just a little bit sweeter (and I just like the flavor that much more). Sugar and flour get sifted together. One egg (of four) is added at a time until the mixture is smooth. Then the lemon juice and zest are mixed in. The filling is rather runny. I was a little alarmed, but you shouldn't be.
The filling is poured on top of the cool, yet slightly warm crust.
The crust should cool 10 minutes before the filling is poured on top. It is fine if the crust is a little warm. I used a slightly smaller pan (8"x8") so I baked mine for about 30 minutes, until the middle stops jiggling. After the pan had cooled for 2-3 hours, I dusted them with confectioner's sugar, and cut them up into little bars (28 or so). This allows you to eat about 3-4 of them without feeling bad, right? But seriously, I ate like 4 of them out of the oven. They are seriously addictive, tart and sweet, with a nice buttery crust. Luckily I gave the rest to AJ's boss (she loved them) so I didn't eat the whole pan.
Beautiful blocks of gold.
Lemony Lemon Bars
1 cup flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp finely grated lemon juice
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-in (I used a 8-in) square pan with overlapping foil.
For the crust, combine the flour, confectioner's sugar, and salt in the bowl of a processor. Add the butter in pieces and pulse until it resembles coarse meal. Scrape into the pan and press evenly onto the bottom. Bake until the crust is golden brown and thoroughly cooked, 18-20 minutes (17 minutes). Reduce the heat to 300 degrees.
For the filling, whisk the granulated sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
Pour the filling onto the still-warm crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes (25-30 minutes for 9-in pan), until the filling sets and no longer jiggles in the middle. Cool completely in the pan on a rack. Gently lift out the foil liner and transfer to a board. Cut into small squares using a sharp knife. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving. (I dusted them before cutting them).