Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Perfection in the guise of a lemon bar

Can there be a state beyond perfection? Technically not, I suppose. Yet these are as perfect as perfect gets. Yesterday I went on a quest for a lemon bar recipe. At last the weather forecasters were calling for a touch of spring today. I need to bring something sweet to a meeting tonight and nothing says spring like lemon bars. Of course there are many, many versions, but I trust Ina Garten and Smitten Kitchen above all others. When I found that Smitten Kitchen used Ina Garten's recipe (with minimal adaptations) I stopped looking.
So here it is--lemon bars via Smitten Kitchen via Ina Garten. I used Smitten's version for the thinner lemon layer. If you want to see her original post, it can be found at http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/01/lemon-bars/. She adapted them from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.
Lemon Bars
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Lemon layer:
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease parchment paper with butter.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill (about 10 to 15 minutes).
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for about 20 minutes. (Check the filling to see when it sets. Once it has set, back for five more minutes.) Place it on a rack and let cool to room temperature or put in refrigerator overnight.
When ready to serve, cut into rectangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Makes about 3 dozen.

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