Best Lemon Bars

I love lemon bars, or really, anything dessert-like made with lemons and sugar.  Recently Lisa and I were at a restaurant where I basically ate an entire bowl of lemon curd and had zero regrets.  Therefore when my on and off again baking buddy came over for an afternoon of bubbly and baking, lemon bars were clearly going to be on the agenda.

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A food processor made this recipe very easy work, it just required patience to wait for the baked end result to cool off in the fridge before lightly dusting it with confectioner’s sugar and digging in!  

Speaking of food processors, not so long ago, Lisa sent me a link for a food processor for about 18 cups and I remember thinking I would need a small army to feed all the food that the giant processor would make.  Some months later, I finally decided that my teeny tiny 2.5 cup food processor (as cute as it was) was just not cutting it anymore and I splurged and bought one with an 11 cup work bowl.  As it turns out, it’s a great size and has helped me make everything from beet caviar to eggplant dip to helping me make these lemon bars.

This ended up being dessert, and second dessert, and breakfast.  Yum!

Ingredients

crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks

filling

  • 1 small to medium sized lemon
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp table salt

Directions

  1. Place a rack in middle of the oven and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the bottom of an 8 inch square baking pan.  Press the first sheet into the bottom and up the sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, running it perpendicular to the first sheet.  Lightly butter exposed parts of parchment or coat them with a nonstick cooking spray.  Set the pan aside.
  3. Crust Blend the flour, sugar and salt together in the work bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is podery, but if firmly pinched, will hold the pinched shape. Turn the dough crumbs into the prepared baking pan and press the dough evenly across the bottom and about 1/2″ up the sides.  Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Should any parts bubble up, gently prick them again with a fork.  Leave the oven on.
  4. Filling Cut your lemon in half, and remove the skin.  Cut your lemon halves into thin rings and discard any seeds.  Toss the lemon rounds – lemon flesh and peel – in the bowl of the food processor, add the sugar, and run the machine until the lemon is thoroughly processed about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and again run the machine until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed.  Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt and pulse the machine in short bursts until the mixture is evnely combined.
  6. Pour the lemon mixture over the crust and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is set.  You can test this by bumping the pan a little; it should only jiggle slightly.
  7. Let the pan cool completely on rack or in the fridge.  Gently cut around the outside of the parchment paper to make sure no sides have stuck and then gently use the parchment “sling” to transfer bars from pan to cutting board.

From the Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman.

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