Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Last Dessert

Everyone always asks, "What would your last meal be?"  Well, I decided to ask around and see what people would want as their last dessert.  The answers have ranged from cake to fruit (FRUIT?? Really, you're dying!)  What I found most interesting is that people aren't as specific when they answer this question.  They say something like cookies or ice cream instead of committing to an exact item like chocolate chip cookies or rocky road.

One of my friends was very specific.  Lemon Bars.  Although I'm not convinced it qualifies as the last thing I'd shove into my mouth, I was intrigued nonetheless.

The last time I made a lemon bar was when I was working at Sweet Sally's Bakeshop.  It wasn't one of her most popular items and I rarely made them.  I was too lazy to dig through my recipe archive and decided to develop my own...

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

Note: If you aren't going to juice your own lemons, don't waste your time making these.


1/2 pound butter
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
generous pinch of kosher salt

Lemon Curd

6 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup lemon juice
zest of 6 lemons (small to medium size) or approximately half the lemons used for the juice)
2 cups flour


confectioners sugar

Preheat your oven to 350.

Coat a 9x13 pan with baking spray and then it line with foil so that the edges exceed the height of the pan.  (This will help you remove the bars later!)

To make the shortbread, cream the butter until fluffy and then add the vanilla sugar.  (To make vanilla sugar, simply add used vanilla beans to a container of sugar and let sit a few weeks.  The moisture of the bean may cause the sugar to clump. You can break up the sugar by hand or pulse in a food processor.  As a substitute, you can just use plain sugar and add half a vanilla bean!)  Allow to mix for a few minutes.  

Add the salt and flour in one addition.  Mix on low just until the dough comes together.  Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan until you have an even layer of crust. Chill for 15 minutes.  Bake the shortbread just until it begins to color, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk and sugar.  Add the lemon juice and zest and mix until fully incorporated.  Add the flour in 3 to 4 additions, gently whisking until incorporated.

When the shortbread is done, pour the curd on top, carefully return to the oven and bake an additional 32-37 minutes.  The top should be set and not jiggle.

Allow the bars to cool at room temperature before attempting to remove them from the pan.  Use the foil tabs to pull the bars out of the pan.  Trim off the edges and then cut the bars into squares, rectangles or triangles.  Dust generously with confectioners sugar and serve.  

These will keep nicely in the fridge for up to 5 days if sealed in an airtight container.  Allow to come to room temperature before serving and sprinkle a fresh layer of confections sugar on top.

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