Monday, February 14, 2011

Pucker Up- Lemon Lust Bars

Maybe Valentine's Day is not symbolically the best day to post something that makes your lips pucker, rather than smile. However, if you are a fan of super lemony, very tart lemon bars, these are for you- even on Valentine's Day (not everyone is a chocolate person).  Besides, lemon desserts remind me of spring- and this is a winter that we need any and all signs that spring is actually on the horizon.  Squeezing 14 lemons is a little bit of a workout, but the lemon flavor in these bars is intense.  Lemon curd is one of my favorite treats, and I can eat it right out of the bowl- never mind baking cookies with it. This lemon curd is no exception.  If you do continue on to make the cookies, these are delicious, but a small bar is all you need.

Lemon Lust Bars
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

Rick's Shortbread
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (120 grams) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Super Lemon Curd
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (14-16 lemons)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 eggs
4 egg yolks
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the shortbread: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter,  granulated sugar,  and confectioners' sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle to make sure the egg yolk is thoroughly incorporated.  In a medium bowl, sift together the all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt.  On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix for about 15 seconds or until flour mix is thoroughly incorporated and dough is evenly mixed. Scrape the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap the dough, pressing down to form a disk 6-7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Refrigerate the dough about 30 minutes until firm but still pliable.

To make the lemon curd: While the dough is chilling, combine the lemon juice, butter and cream in a medium non-reactive saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and heat to just below a boil.  In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until blended.  Slowly whisk in the granulated sugar until combined.  Remove the lemon juice mixture from the heat and gradually whisk a little of it into the sugar-egg mixture. Continue whisking the hot liquid into the eggs, a little at a time, until all of it has been incorporated. Return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan frequently to prevent the eggs from scrambling, about 5-8 minutes or until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon thickly.
Remove the lemon curd from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Whisk in the salt and vanilla.

    Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly flour the dough disk and two large sheets of parchment paper.  Place the dough between the sheets of paper and roll it out into a rectangle 9 by 11 inches and about 1/4 inch thick. Carefully peel off the top sheet of parchment. Transfer the bottom sheet with the dough to a 9 by 11 inch baking pan with at least 2 inch sides.  Press the dough to fit the bottom of the pan and allow the parchment to come up the sides of the pan.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until light brown in color.  Remove from the oven, pour the lemon curd on tip and smooth evenly over the shortbread with a spatula.  Bake another 15-20 minutes or until the curd has set and jiggles like firm Jell-O.  Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Loosen the parchment from the sides of the pan and then slide out onto a cutting board. Cut into bars. ( I cut into small bars- Joanne Chang cuts these into only 9  bars).  Refrigerate.  ((post by Susan)

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