Grown up Lemon Bars

I am going to be 28 in one week….where did my mid-twenties go?  I feel like I fell asleep, woke up and I am instantly in my last 20′s …. when did this happen?  Sorry for all who are reading this to whom I have already confessed this concern to. 

Now, don’t get me as one of those people who will stop celebrating birthdays or start wearing loads of wrinkle cream, etc…I mean birthdays still mean cake and ice cream right?!?  However, that cake and ice cream keep showing up quicker and quicker each year.  With this sudden awareness of how quickly time is moving (ten year high school reunion is this summer…holy moley!!) I have been reminiscing of years gone by.  I sound like I am nearing my golden anniversary instead of my, well what is 30 in 2 years birthday considered?  Anywho, I have been thinking…Scary, I know.

I have been thinking of all the great times spent with friends, many of who are married and are parents (when did we get old enough to have kids?!?), or have moved far away, or just live across town.  I miss them all and enjoy thinking of all the great times we shared.  From late night study sessions to stress relieving parties.  All of which, I highlighted with cakes, cookies, and pies.  (were you wondering how I was going to get this post around to food?)  I quickly learned everyone’s favorite cookies, who prefered brownies to cake, and who didn’t mind eating rice krispie treats straight from the pan while still warm. 

The most frequented dessert in our apartment was lemon bars.  Oh they were good.  Shortbread crust with a sharp sweetened lemon filling.  Very rarely did they even warm completely before we indulged.  Hell, we didn’t even bother with plates…just grabbed a fork and went to town.  With our college budget these treats were $2.99 and from a box.  We didn’t care.  However, now that we are grown up, or trying to grow up, or are just growing, I figured I should try a grown up version of a treat our younger selves loved. 

I first saw these made by Ina Garten and have been meaning to make them ever since.  With spring trying to roll around (middle of May and its hardly 50° outside) and my mind doing numbers on me, I figured now is better than never.

Lemon Bars

adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ingredients

Crust (altered version of shortbread)

  • 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 1 + 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup cornstarch

Filling

  • 1 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (≈ 6 lemons)
  • 2 Tablespoon lemon zest (4 to 5 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 Cups white sugar
  • 6 extra large eggs
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • Confectionary sugar for dusting

 

 Directions

Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 9 x 13 pan ( I used parchment paper…)
  2. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. 
  3. Sift together cornstarch and flour
  4. Slowly add to sugar and butter.  Blend until well mixed and the dough can be gathered into a ball. 
  5. Place dough into prepared pan and press down to make dough fit into pan, about 1/2 inch thick.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly brown.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan on wire rack while you prepare the filling (don’t sweat if you don’t have one!) Leave oven on. 

Filling

  1. Whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, sugar, and flour in a medium bowl.
  2. Pour over crust and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the filling is set (bake longer if using a smaller pan for a thicker filling). 
  3. Let cool completely (if you can resist) before dusting with confectionary sugar and serving. 

This is wonderfully tangy and full of lemon flavor.  I am hoping to make this in the future with the addition of limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur).  If you would like to make this addition, then I would use 1 to 2 tablespoons.  I am intrigued by how much more lemon flavor this would add.  The crust is rather thick, if a thinner crust is preferred then use 1/2 to 3/4 of shortbread recipe. Next time I make this I think I will use a smaller pan and less crust.  I like a thicker filling and thinner crust, thats just me though!  I hope you enjoy!

 

 

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