Welcome to my first post of 2015!
It is Winter here is SoCal and citrus is everywhere. It seems like every yard has some sort of citrus tree loaded down with beautiful fruit.
I was raised in downtown Chicago and spent eight
years living on the East Coast. BRRRRR!!!! For someone like me - to be able and pick a lemon off of a tree in my back yard is nothing short of amazing.
Actually, I do not have a lemon tree in my backyard - I am writing to you from my downtown loft. However,Craig and Kim (my beautiful kids) have a lovely Meyer lemon tree in their backyard.
See photo above.
Citrus is so an essential ingredient to good cooking and baking. It has so many functions - it balances flavor, tenderizes gluten and is amazing on it's own.
Citrus juice freezes beautifully so if you have an abundance of citrus - you can go ahead and freeze the excess juice. For those who are super organized, you can freeze the juice in ice cube trays and
then pop them into Ziploc bags once they are frozen solid.
I know this technique sounds impossibly '80s but it is great to have cubes of frozen flavor enhancers at your culinary disposal. You can handle stock, pesto and tomato paste in exactly the same way.
But I digress - now back to Baking with a capitol "B"
Years ago, in a dessert class taught by legendary pastry instructor Nick Malgieri, I learned that, as far
as dessert recipes go, people far into two categories - those who love lemon and those who love chocolate. I believe this wholeheartedly - Nick was right. I have used this principle in teaching for years - especially when it comes to writing great dessert menus.
The following recipe is for those who love, love love lemon.
Luscious Lemon Bars is the recipe that follows....these are really delicious - the lemon flavor
is not too tart and not too sweet and the crust is the easiest one you will ever find.
No pate sucree - no chilling - and the brown sugar gives it a little flavor edge.
The reason for that is the molasses in the brown sugar - just that little note of bitter to counteract the
sweetness of sugar. Perfect.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and it makes it into your cookie repertoire - these are great for bake sales, bringing to the office and simple weeknight desserts.
If you have any questions please let me know in the comment section.
Yield: approx. 24 small or 12 medium bars
Oven: 350 degrees
1 quarter sheet pan
Brush pan with pan spread
Line with parchment paper and leave a one inch overhang of paper on both short sides of the pan.
(this makes it easy to lift the bars out of the pan for easy portioning)
Do not butter the parchment paper as the shortbread base will release easily due to its high butter content.
6.75 (191g) ounces all purpose flour
4.5 ounces (128g) unsalted butter – cubed and chilled
2.8 (79g) ounces light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade combine all the dry ingredients.
2. Pulse 5-6 times to blend
3. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms small lumps and holds together
this should take 30-45 seconds.
4. Sprinkle mixture over prepared pan and then press the base into the pan – try to make
it flat and compact as possible.
Bake the base until it is golden brown.
Start checking it in 20 minutes
** This filling is nice and tart – add the additional ½ ounce sugar if prefer a sweeter taste
6 ounces (170g) lemon juice – Meyer lemons preferred but any variety will do
11 ounces (312g) granulated sugar
1.5 ounces (43g) all purpose flour – sifted
Very fine zest of ½ a lemon – optional
Garnish: Sifted powdered sugar
1. In a bowl whisk together the eggs and lemon juice.
2. Add the sugar, flour and zest (if using).
3. Pour onto the hot shortbread base.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
5. Bake until set – start checking in 25-30 minutes.
6. The filling should be set.
7. Let cool and garnish with powdered sugar.
Storage: These cookies keep three days refrigerated in an airtight container.