Monday, May 6, 2013

Lemon Bars for a Lasting Mother’s Day Impression

Mother’s Day is coming up, and since so many of you brave souls will be attempting a celebratory brunch, I thought I’d post this much-requested lemon bars recipe, in case things don’t go as smoothly as anticipated. 

Preparing brunch can be tricky anytime, let alone under mom’s watchful (aka “extremely concerned”) eyes. Can someone please get her a mimosa and walk her into the garden?

So, even if a few poached eggs break, or the toast gets a little too golden-black, no worries! If you finish the meal with these gorgeous, and absolutely impossible to mess-up lemon bars, she'll be as proud as she will be impressed. Our moms may have taught us the importance of a good first impression, but its America’s restaurateurs who discovered the importance of a delicious last impression. There's nothing like a well made pastry to make one forgive a tough steak.

Other than a baking dish, there’s no special equipment or techniques required. Both the shortbread base and the lemon custard take only minutes, and are simply hand-mixed in a bowl. 

Basically, if you can move your arm in a circle, and effectively set a timer (there’s one on your phone), your lemon bars should look just as good as these (maybe better – see meringue note below). Anyway, whether you’re going to make these for Mother’s Day or not, I hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 16 Small Lemon Bars:

For the shortbread crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup room temp unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
Bake crust at 350 degrees F. for 22 minutes

For the lemon layer:
2 large whole eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp grated lemon peel
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes
Garnish with powdered sugar; or top with *meringue (the extra egg white whipped with 1 tablespoon of sugar) and brown with torch.

*My Meringue
If you decide to turn these into lemon meringue bars, do yourself a favor and actually measure the sugar. I couldn’t be bothered to check a recipe, so I only tossed in a teaspoon of sugar, and it should be closer to a tablespoon. The technique is the same; beat the extra white to the ribbon stage (where drips of white stay on the surface for a few seconds), and then add the sugar and continue whipping until you have nice, glossy peaks. My “by eye” batch worked fine, but it was a little too dry, and not quite sticky enough. Be advised.

View the complete recipe