Monday, September 21, 2009

When life gives you lemons...make Luscious Lemon Bars

During a telephone conversation this past weekend with my sister, Barbara, we started reminising about Mom's lemon meringue pie and her wonderful Lemon-glazed cheesecake. You see, next to chocolate, lemon was Mom's next favorite flavoring and ours too! Since I had just bought a bag of lemons, my baking today tries to capture that memory.
Luscious Lemon Bars
Preheat oven 350F-degrees. For the crust: Measure 1 cup All-purpose flour, 1/2 cup finely ground Almonds, 1/3 cup sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg. In the food processor, process briefly to blend. Then, add through the feed tube, 10 T cold unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time. Pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs. Press the dough into the bottom and approximately one-inch of the sides of a glass baking dish. I used a 7" x 12" one, but you could also use a 8" (or 9") square. Bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Let the crust cool on a wire rack while you mix up your lemon filling. Lower oven temperature to 325F-degrees
For the filling: In a bowl, whisk together 1 cup of granulated sugar, 2T Instant ClearJel , pinch of salt, 1 T lemon zest, 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk, 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 T. heavy cream. Carefully pour the filling over the crust and return to the oven. Bake 16-18 minutes or until the filling is set, but still jiggles slightly when the dish is shaken. (If you have used an 8" square dish, you may have to increase the time to 18-20 minutes.)
Let the bars cool for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting. I ran a small metal spatula around the dish to loosen the edges, then, cut them in bars.
Traditionally, the bars are dusted with confectioners' sugar and you can do that with a fine-mesh sieve or a shaker. Because I was craving lemon meringue pie, I chose to make a meringue from the left-over egg white. I used my hand-held mixer with the whisk attachment and whipped the egg white and a pinch of cream of tartar to soft peaks. Next, I sprinkle sugar, while whipping, 1 T. at a time until I had incorporated 3 T. of sugar and had glossy peaks. I piped the meringue on top of the bar and then used my kitchen torch to brown the peaks. I closed my eyes when I took a bite and imagined I was in my mother's kitchen having a slice of her lemon meringue pie. It was certainly close enough to brings tears to my eyes! Enjoy!
*Note: If you don't have Instant ClearJel, you can substitute the same measure of all-purpose flour.  The difference will be that flour tends to give a "cloudy" look to fruit fillings, whereas, the ClearJel doesn't.
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  1. I love the idea of adding meringue to the bars. I also really like your presentation--where did you get these plates?

  2. I bought these plates at Crate & Barrel a few years ago. I needed a bread & butter plate to go with my brown transferware. They're handpainted so, it's handwashing only, but well worth it.

  3. Your meringue looks terrific---and the bars look like something even I could make!! I must try this recipe---I've been thinking about Mom's lemon meringue pie ever since we talked. It was absolutely THE BEST!!