What yummy lemon desserts do you enjoy?
Usually, there's nothing that can satisfy my sweet tooth more than chocolate. But occasionally, I find myself craving something tart and sweet ... usually something citrusy, and of course, it doesn't hurt if there's icing, shortbread, or powdered sugar involved!
Hence why lemon bars -- you know, with that ooey-gooey, sugary lemon topping and buttery cookie crust ... mmmm -- are an all-time fave of mine. It's also pretty easy to whip up a batch of 'em (especially if you have a food processor), so you can enjoy a cafe-perfect bar from the comfort of your own home. Whoohoo!
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold)
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 fluid ounces (use a liquid measuring cup) lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 1/2 large lemons)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
- Pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely grated)
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting
8-inch by 8-inch by 2-inch baking pan, preferably metal (if using a glass pan, lower the oven temperature 25°F.), bottom and 2 sides lined with an 8-inch by 16-inch strip of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes, wrap it, and refrigerate.
- In a food processor with the metal blade, process the sugars for 1 minute or so, until the sugar is very fine. Add the butter and pulse in until the sugar disappears. Add the flour and pulse in until there are a lot of little moist crumbly pieces and no dry flour particles remain.
- Dump the mixture into a plastic bag and press it together. Remove the dough from the plastic bag and knead it lightly, until it holds together.
- Place 1 oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Pat the dough into the prepared pan. Use a fork to prick the dough all over.
- Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the top is pale golden (do not brown).
- While the shortbread is baking, prepare the lemon topping.
- Have a strainer, suspended over a bowl, ready near the range.
- In a heavy noncorrodible saucepan, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes, until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats a wooden spoon but is still liquid enough to pour. (A candy thermometer will read 196°F.) The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to take on a yellow color on the back of a wooden spoon. It must not be allowed to boil or it will curdle. (It will steam above 140°F. Whenever steaming occurs, remove the pan briefly from the heat, stirring constantly to prevent boiling.)
- When the topping has thickened, pour it at once into the strainer. Press it with the back of a spoon until only the coarse residue remains. Discard the residue. Stir in the lemon zest.
- When the shortbread is baked, remove it from the oven, lower the temperature to 300°F, pour the lemon topping on top of the shortbread, and return it to the oven for 10 minutes.
- Cool the lemon-topped shortbread completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes to set the lemon part completely before cutting into bars. Place the powdered sugar in a strainer and tap the strainer with a spoon to sprinkle a thick, even coating, entirely covering the lemon.
- Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the pastry on the 2 sides without the aluminum foil. Use the foil to lift out the lemon-covered shortbread onto a cutting surface. Use a long, sharp knife to cut the shortbread first in thirds, then in half the other way, and then each half in thirds. Wipe the blade after each cut.
- The powdered sugar will start to be absorbed into the lemon topping after several hours, but it can be reapplied before serving.