Spring officially debuts on March 20, like right now. If you’re living it up in a warm climate, you’re feelin’ the spring. If you live where the snow is still knee-deep, well… we can surely pretend, right? It stretches the imagination when I walk into a Target store and see the beach shorts and flip flops front and center. Because just beyond the doors is a snow storm. I’m all for letting the imagination fly.
Even though winter is citrus time in much of the country, fresh lemons seem to scream spring. The pretty bright yellow just makes you happy. These super lemony lemon bars are like spring’s mascot. If it doesn’t feel springy, at least it will taste like it!
Both Hubby’s parents and my parents live in sunny So. Cal., and they are blessed with all sorts of lush fruit trees thriving in their backyard. Whenever I get my hands on a bunch of fresh lemons, I think of my father in law’s lemon tree on steroids. It produces lemons that resemble little grapefruits. Wish I had a picture of those for you.
These lemon bars are ultra lemony. Superbly lemonish. The juice of three big lemons plus lotsa zest creates an amazingly tangy + sweet filling that is a burst of happiness in your mouth. The smooth lemon filling rests atop a tender yet crisp butter crust that is a taste of perfection. My family adores lemon bars. My kids beg me not to give them all away when I make them. Hubby used to buy them from a gourmet pastry shop for me when we were dating. These are by far the most perfect lemon bars we’ve inhaled, and we think you’ll love ‘em too.
Enjoy a little flavor of spring, wherever you happen to be!
RECIPE (one 9×13 pan)
For the Crust:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
12 TB regular butter, chilled and cut into 1 inch pieces
For the Filling:
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup white sugar
3 TB all purpose flour
Juice of 3 large lemons (2/3 cup)
Zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup whole milk
1/8 tsp table salt
For the Crust: Preheat oven to 350F with oven rack at middle position. Press a long piece of foil into 13×9 baking dish, so that the ends hang over the dish (helps with removal of bars.) Grease the foil and set aside.
Blend flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor until fully combined, about 15 seconds. Add butter and process to blend, about 10 seconds. Then pulse until the mixture looks pale yellow, resembling a coarse meal. (If you’re doing it by hand, mix the dry ingredients together in large bowl. Freeze butter and grate it on large holes of a grater, into the bowl and toss pieces to coat with flour mixture. Rub the bits with fingers until flour turns pale yellow and resembles coarse meal.) Sprinkle crust mixture into prepared pan and firmly press into an even layer over bottom of pan. Place pan in freezer for 10 minutes. Then bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
For the Filling: Whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in large bowl. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, milk, and salt to incorporate. Reduce oven temp to 325F. Stir filling mixture well, and pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm upon a very light touch, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely to room temp. Tightly cover and chill in fridge before serving. Once chilled, remove entire dessert with foil sling, and cut into squares.
Dust with powdered sugar upon serving, if desired. Bars will keep well in fridge, covered.
Source: Chew Out Loud, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook