It’s the first day of September but it certainly feels more like October 1st today! I’m loving the 65 degree temperature with virtually no humidity…bring on the jeans and long sleeve shirts! But before the summer comes to an end, I need to squeeze in a few more summery posts. So over the next few days, you’ll see a bunch of summery posts and I hope that you don’t wait to long to indulge in lemons, limes, and cool ice cream before it’s time to pull out the sweaters and the pumpkin recipes start filling up your Google Reader.
Today brings you Ina Garten’s lemon bars. I’ve had this recipe sitting on my “list” for literally years and why I waited so long to make them, I have no idea because they were outstanding. I mean truly outstanding, people! The shortbread crust is the perfect companion for the sweet and tart lemon filling of these bars and they will make you pucker and sigh all at the same time. I brought one batch for a post-breakfast treat to my parents’ house way back on Father’s Day and a second batch to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for dessert later that day. The raves for these bars were bigger than the raves for the outrageous brownies that I brought along with the bars…and that’s saying a lot!
I divided the recipe into two and baked the bars in two rectangular tart pans that I got for a steal on sale at Williams-Sonoma in May ($5.00 each!!). The shortbread recipe worked out just fine but there was a bit of lemon filling leftover that I really had nothing to do with. Next time I make the recipe in the two pans, I will cut the filling down by 1/4 but if you’re going to make the bars in a 13″x9″ pan, I’m sure there will not be too much filling. The recipe says to use a 13″x9″ baking sheet but that seems to be an uncommon size for a baking sheet so I would say a 13″x9″ glass dish or roasting pan would work just fine. If you use one of these, I would recommend lining the bottom and sides of the dish/pan with aluminum foil sprayed with baking spray or greased with butter so that you can pull the bars out in one large piece and cut them on a board. Remember to adjust the baking temperature slightly (down by approx 25 degrees F) if you use a glass pan because glass seems to conduct heat faster than metal pans.
source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, page 200
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:
- 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup flour
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- 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.