Monday, April 27, 2009

Not-So-Bad Lemon Bars

Once upon a time, there was a magical recipe for the most luscious lemon bars in all the land, and I had access to this brilliant recipe card, and the treasure that could be created from its contents. These lemon bars were foolproof, they were creamy and sweet and tart and a joy to consume. Of course, I have no idea where that recipe has disappeared to, but I've intermittently spent the rest of my days searching for a lemon bar recipe that replicates this long-lost culinary jewel.

Unfortunately, I have not quite succeeded.

That seems like an awfully unfair thing to say here, as I follow with a recipe for lemon bars that I made recently; like telling a child that although his drawing is passable and may take up space on the refrigerator for a few days, it will never live up to his dead older brother's masterpiece painting, which is now hanging in the living room above the sofa.

Perhaps that isn't the most precise analogy...the lemon bars below are more than simply passable; they are quite good – tangy, light, and refreshing – though they still are not the lemon bars I was searching for. They would make any bake sale or picnic a bit more cheerful, with their bright yellow hue and lovely lemony aroma. But I'm not sure that I would bake them again, knowing that the bar I am looking for is still out there. However, I feel responsible for putting this recipe out there, as one I have tried. These bars are very simple to make and have quite a low-key ingredient list; a trip to the grocery store is most likely not even needed to make these, so they would be a perfect last-minute dessert to put together if guests were coming over or if they were needed for an emergency surprise party.

Lemon Bars

Cookie Base:
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
Lemon Filling:
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon rind


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together butter, powdered sugar and flour until well blended. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes.
2. Sift together sugar, flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add eggs, lemon juice and lemon rind. Beat by hand or with electric mixer until well blended. Pour mixture over crust and bake for 25 minutes.
3. Allow bars to cool, then dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares.

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