Why does a three day weekend seem to go by just as fast as a normal two day weekend?
Perhaps time really does fly by when you’re having fun or maybe it flies by when you’re busy or maybe it flies by when you’re not at work. (My husband points out that having fun may be defined as simply not being at work.) I think Labor Day weekend should be a four day weekend from now on because then it might actually feel like a three day weekend. 😉
In between visiting our respective families, I did some baking this past weekend. I busted out a left over great big can of pumpkin puree. Yes, I’m totally serious, it’s already that time of year again. I’ll be sharing those recipes with you very soon, but before then, I want to share one last Summer-esk recipe with you. This lemon dessert is the best way to say ciao to summer.
These lemon bars are similar to the lemon stuff that goes in a lemon meringue pie, except it’s on top of a shortbread crust instead and without the meringue topping. The filling is uh-mazing! It’s like a custard and wait for it… it’s full of lemon flavor. I know that might sound like an obvious description for lemon bars, but a few years ago I made a different recipe for lemon bars. Those so called lemon bars used lemon extract and turned out to be bars that looked a little yellow and had absolutely no lemon flavor at all. Ever since then I’ve been on a quest to actually find lemon bars that taste like lemons and these fit the bill. The key to getting a nice lemon flavor is to use lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Conveniently those two ingredients are packaged together in the form of fresh lemons. 🙂
I find it funny that I was on a lemon bar quest because I’m not a lemony dessert kinda girl. In fact, I’ve even gone so far to as say that I don’t like lemon desserts at all, but my husband says that’s not really the case because I’ve eaten and enjoyed them. He’s right. I guess the reality is that if I had to choose between a lemon and a chocolate dessert then I’d choose chocolate every single time. Okay fine, if I had to choose between chocolate and practically anything I would choose the chocolate every single time. However, if a lemon dessert is my only option then I will eat it and happily so. After it all, it’s a dessert… hello, I’m a sweet junkie.
I think that these lemon bars are the bomb-digity and that was evident when I went back for seconds and then had thirds when it was actually time for dessert. I made them in the morning and of course had to try them out before bringing them to the family BBQ later that day.
Fair warning though, they are all sorts of soft. If it’s hot out you may want to consider putting them in the fridge until it’s time to serve them. This works out very well because you sort of get a double refreshment from the awesome citrus and from the cold. If you forget to keep them cool, don’t fret, just make sure you have silverware handy to eat them.
Lemon Bars Recipe
(Makes 24 squares)
Ingredients for the Crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (equivalent to 8.8 ounces)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound butter, room temperatures (equivalent to 2 sticks)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
Ingredients for the Filling:
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 cups white sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (I used 6 lemons.)
- 1 cup freshly squeeze lemon juice (I used the same 6 lemons for this too.)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (equivalent to 4.4 ounces)
- for sprinkling on top of the finished bars, powdered sugar
Directions for the Crust:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and set the dry ingredients aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. The goal of the plastic wrap is to help squeeze the dough together more firmly and minimize sticky hands.
- Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 x 13 baking dish, building a 1/2 inch edge on all sides. This step will take patience and time. A small rolling pin would be handy if you have one that will fit in your pan. My husband came up with the idea of using a can of soda as a makeshift mini rolling pin. Just make sure it’s unopened (full) and freshly cleaned (with dish soap and water). It worked like a charm.
- Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. (The timing on my oven isn’t too far off of 30 minutes to preheat, so you may want to start preheating the oven when you put the prepared pan into the refrigerator to chill.)
- Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes or until very lightly browned.
- Let it cool.
- Keep the oven on.
Directions for the Filling:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour.
- Pour the filling over the crust and bake it for 30 to 35 minutes or until the filling is set.
- Let it cool to room temperature.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar on top prior to serving.
Source: Ina Garten