luscious lemon

Last week I promised to reveal the progress of these cheerful lemons into something that would really get a person’s attention.  Well, the attention of their tastebuds, at least.  Ready to watch the magic unfold?  You already know it’s going to be rich if you’ve counted the eggs in this photo:

We’ll get back to those in a minute.  First, the crust.  Word to the wise: I have a tiny food processor, and maybe you do too.  If that’s the case, put these ingredients in your stand mixer and spare yourself the heartache of discovering that 1 & 1/2 cups of flour overfills your little processor, not to mention what happens if you go ahead and try to cram in 1 & 1/2 sticks of butter as well.  Dumb, da-dumb, dumb, dumb.  Now I know.

1 & 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

pinch salt

1 & 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

1 tsp. vanilla extract ~ If you haven’t bought Mexican vanilla yet, do it on your next grocery trip!  Two reasons:

1) At a Mexican market you can get a huge bottle for cheap instead of an eensy bottle for you-can’t-believe-how-expensive (if your American supermarket is like mine).

2) It tastes SO much sweeter!  Mmm…

*Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9×9 pan with foil and spritz it with cooking oil.  Blend dry ingredients in food processor or stand mixer.  If you try to do this by hand you’ll be here all night; I’ve warned you.  Add butter and pulse (or turn on/off) until cut in.  Add vanilla and mix til dough forms.  Press into foil-lined pan.  Prick with a fork (to let steam out) and bake 25 minutes or until lightly golden.  Behold:

While the goldening happens in the dark recesses of the oven, get busy making another form of gold—liquid this time.  Start with 2 & 1/2 cups sugar and 6 large eggs at room temp.  (Yes, this does mean you have to plan ahead; sorry.)  Whisk together.  Add 1 cup strained lemon juice.  I got almost this much from 5 smallish lemons.  I’m actually glad I didn’t use quite a full cup….

Add 3 Tbs flour to sugar/egg/lemon juice mixture.  Strain into another bowl and add 2 & 1/2 Tbs lemon zest.  Or don’t.  I didn’t and everything turned out fine.  Pour this ultra-lemony concoction over the hot crust.  (If the crust has to wait a minute for you to finish the filling, don’t panic.  It will be okay.)

Lower oven temp to 325.  Bake about 35 minutes.  You’re looking for a wiggle-free center and sides that seem set.  Put the whole shebang on a rack to cool.  Once cool, chill  in the fridge for a few hours before proceeding.  (SO much planning ahead; I know!)  When it’s thoroughly chilled, start chopping.  Use a big, preferably heavy, knife, because it takes some doing to push through that crust.  I was a little tired after carving out my 32 triangles.

I consumed several of them to regain my strength.  Or maybe just because I have no willpower.  Or maybe because I had already waited so freaking long for this moment.

Which, in case you wonder, was worth it.  Yee-eee-um!  I  usually want my desserts full of chocolate, cream, caramel, or peanut butter–or some combination of those.  Not so much a fan of the fruity things.  It’s like trying to sneak nutrition into what we all know is an indulgence.  “Why pretend?” I ask.  I’ll eat my sugar in the open.  “Yeah, that’s right: I’m spooning pure sugar and full-fat dairy into my mouth with every bite of this crème brûlée; what about it?”

No, “Oh, but this has fruit in it, so it’s healthy!” for me.  But these little guys turned me a little.  Not a 180…but I’m peeking over my shoulder in fruit’s direction, pondering what some sugar and cream might be able to do for it.  I see potential where I saw none before.  Beware, oh middle of the food pyramid.  (Yes; the food pyramid in my mind still looks like this.)

Do you think these little guys are as adorable as I do? They’re chunks of citrus sunshine.  I mean, come on.  How could you help but want one (or five)?  The recipe comes from Bon Appetit Desserts, a magnificent, 600+ page cookbook with more than enough recipes for anyone with a sweet tooth.  Look on page 593 for “Double-Lemon Bars.”  A recipe by the same name but with some ingredient changes appears here on the Bon Appetit website.

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  1. 3 things:
    1) I am proud of your food-pyramid-following…my daily diet is a precariously teetering clutter pile…if you sift through the Rice Krispies and the peanut butter, you might find an orange or a few stalks of asparagus in there!
    2) Those lemon bars are GORGEOUS!
    3) You are wonderful.
    (P.S. I, too, have a tiny food processor, and I regularly make the overloading mistake. You’d think I’d remember from the previous mess, but nope!)

    • Umm…I didn’t say I follow it, just that there’s a picture of it in my head! But thank you for thinking highly of me even when I don’t deserve it.

  2. Cayla

     /  April 8, 2012

    I baked these and brought them to my family’s Easter dinner–SO delicious! Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful recipe!!

    • Sweet! Glad you liked them. Someone else made me Easter dessert (chocolate pie!) but lemon seems like the perfect follow-up to a spring meal!

  3. Cayla

     /  May 6, 2012

    I trotted out this recipe again this weekend for a family party, and I owe you all of the gushings that our guests made over them! Everyone was all, “OH these are SOOOO good, where did you get such a good recipe?!” And I told everyone that my friend Maria shared it with me. Thank you, thank you! I shared the love and the lemon by giving the recipe to 8 different people. I think it’s time for me to buy the whole Bon Appetit Desserts cookbook now….

    • This makes me smile! Yes–get the cookbook; you will not regret it. And if you’re not sure where to start, I suggest the Frozen Milky Way Mousse (p. 491). I don’t love their sauce recipe, but the mousse with some other chocolate sauce and raspberries–you’ll go straight to heaven. It’s good with peanut butter sauce too (no raspberries…obviously). One more fun fact: on the back flap, my cookbook had a cut-out offer for a year subscription to the magazine, so watch for that and send it in if you’re interested. (Warning: Conde Naste will start sending you mail offers ad nauseam.)


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