A recent family request for recipes has my mouth watering. Following are some of my favorite recipes for tart, tangy, mouth puckering Lemon Bars. Classic takes, a lite version, and an inspired variation with grapefruit from a contest blogger. Enjoy
1) Ina Garten Lemon Bars Recipe
Copyright 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Serves: 20 squares or 40 triangles
For the crust:
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
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 a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
2) Cooks Illustrated Lemon Bars Recipe
The Editors of Cook’s Illustrated | Baking Illustrated | America’s Test Kitchen, 2004 | Makes 16 bars
Lemon bars are pretty easy to make, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get them just the way you want them. Whether from bakeries or home recipes, the crust is often quite soggy, and many versions are too sweet and lack true lemon flavor. The warm filling must be added to a warm crust. Start preparing the filling when the crust goes into the oven. Be sure to cool the bars completely before cutting them.—the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated
Active time: 25 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes, not including cooling time.
For the crust
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more to decorate the finished bars
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the lemon filling
- 7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup lemon juice (from 4 or 5 medium lemons), plus 1/4 cup finely grated zest
- Pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Confectioners’ sugar, optional
Make the crust
1. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 9 inches wide. Fit 1 sheet in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan (overhang will help in removal of baked bars). Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a food processor and process briefly. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Make the filling
4. In a medium non-reactive bowl, whisk together the yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and whisk until just combined, about 5 seconds. Add the lemon juice, zest, and salt; whisk until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium non-reactive saucepan, add the butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency and registers 170°F (76°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour the curd through a single-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a clean non-reactive bowl. Stir in the heavy cream; pour the curd into the warm crust immediately.
5. Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over the bars, if desired.
3) Cooks Country Lower-Fat Lemon Squares
They had me at “lemon”. Add “lower fat” and I pretty much ran to the grocery store for supplies. Cook’s Country came out with this recipe in their June/July 2011 magazine. These bars are wonderfully lemony! The butter was decreased from 12 Tbsp. (in a traditional lemon square recipe), down to 4 Tbsp!
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg white
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped lemon zest
- 6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar, for dusting top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack in the middle. Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with aluminum foil, allowing foil to hang over pan edges (you will used these foil handles to lift the squares out of the dish after baking). Spray foil with non-stick spray.
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, cornstarch, zest, baking powder and salt until combined. Add butter pieces and milk and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Pour into pan and press down evenly (I use the bottom of a glass so I don’t get finger divots). Bake until edges are lightly brown, about 18-20 minutes. Let cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
To make the lemon topping, whisk sugar, eggs, egg white, flour and salt together in a bowl until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and zest. Pour over cooled crust and bake until filling is set, 15-20 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Using foil handles, lift lemon squares from pan and cut into 9 squares.
4) Texas Pink Grapefruit Bars with Cardamom Shortbread Crust by Camilla Cooks
Cook’s Country Cookie Contest 2007
1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 large eggs
1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated grapefruit zest
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2/3 cup freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Optional: 3 drops red food coloring (optional—to further tint the filling pink)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch metal pan with foil; spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Process the flour, brown sugar, cardamom and salt in a food processor. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. While shortbread is baking, prepare topping.
Whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, grapefruit zest, lime zest, grapefruit juice, lime juice and food coloring in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until pudding-like consistency, about 6-8 minutes. Strain over warm crust and spread into even layer.
Bake until filling is set, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. Cut into 2-inch squares. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. Makes 16 bars.