The Ultimate Lemon Butter Bar?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Last week, I made some lemon bars for my sister's boyfriend's charity event. I didn't have a lemon bar recipe handy in any of my cookbooks, so I searched When presented with an option named The Ultimate Lemon Butter Bar, I figured that must be the way to go. The resulting bars were quite tasty, but the ultimate? I don't know about that. Good enough to share? Certainly.

I doubled the recipe to fill a 9" x 13" glass baking pan. I also skipped the straining of the curd after reading in the comments section that many other testers skipped this step. I'd say the texture did not suffer as a result of the lack of straining. I general, I liked how the shortbread maintained some dryness without being too dry. Do note that they need some time in the fridge to cool -- more than an hour would be ideal.

The Ultimate Lemon Butter Bar
From from Rose's Christmas Cookies

Shortbread Base:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar 
1 1/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour

Lemon Curd Topping:
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar 
3 fluid ounces (use a liquid measuring cup) lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 1/2 large lemons) 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened) 
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely grated) 
2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting

8-inch by 8-inch by 2-inch baking pan, preferably metal (if using a glass pan, lower the oven temperature 25°F.), bottom and two sides lined with an 8-inch by 16-inch strip of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

1. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes, wrap it, and refrigerate.
2. In a food processor with the metal blade, process the sugars for 1 minute or so, until the sugar is very fine. Add the butter and pulse in until the sugar disappears. Add the flour and pulse in until there are a lot of little moist crumbly pieces and no dry flour particles remain.
3. Dump the mixture into a plastic bag and press it together. Remove the dough from the plastic bag and knead it lightly, until it holds together.
4. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 325°F.
5. Pat the dough into the prepared pan. Use a fork to prick the dough all over.
6.  Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the top is pale golden (do not brown).

While the shortbread is baking, prepare the Lemon Curd Topping.
1. Have a strainer, suspended over a bowl, ready near the range.
2. In a heavy non-corrodible saucepan, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes, until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats a wooden spoon but is still liquid enough to pour. (A candy thermometer will read 196°F.) The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to take on a yellow color on the back of a wooden spoon. It must not be allowed to boil or it will curdle. (It will steam above 140°F. Whenever steaming occurs, remove the pan briefly from the heat, stirring constantly to prevent boiling.)
3. When the curd has thickened, pour it at once into the strainer. Press it with the back of a spoon until only the coarse residue remains. Discard the residue. Stir in the lemon zest.
4. When the shortbread is baked, remove it from the oven, lower the temperature to 300°F., pour the lemon curd on top of the shortbread, and return it to the oven for 10 minutes.
5. Cool the lemon curd–topped shortbread completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes to set the lemon curd completely before cutting into bars. Place the powdered sugar in a strainer and tap the strainer with a spoon to sprinkle a thick, even coating, entirely covering the lemon.
6. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the pastry on the two sides without the aluminum foil. Use the foil to lift out the lemon curd–covered shortbread onto a cutting surface. Use a long, sharp knife to cut the shortbread first in thirds, then in half the other way, and then each half in thirds. Wipe the blade after each cut.


Tim Fenton said...

Please have some fresh upon my arrival!



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