Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Meyer Lemon Bars

Alright, since it’s winter and all, you know what that means: Meyer lemons! My Meyer lemon tree has been working overtime producing tons of fruit, to the point where I’m considering just giving it regular fertilizer to boost its overall health this year, instead of fertilizer to boost fruit production… It’s been wonderful to help me work my way through my Meyer lemon recipes, though! I made a Meyer lemon pudding cake before the holidays, but as more lemons matured, I got to adapt these Meyer lemon bars. I used 6 lemons in all (so all the ones in the picture, plus an extra one when I realized I didn’t have quite enough). I like the concentrated lemon flavor here, as it’s a nice way to show off Meyer lemons; that being said, you could make this with regular (Eureka) lemons if you used more sugar, and I’m pretty sure the recipe could be adapted to use other seasonal citrus.

For the crust
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar, plus more to sprinkle on the finished bars
pinch of salt
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, still cool and cut into 8 pieces

For the filling
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
finely grated zest from the Meyer lemons (see below)
2/3 cup Meyer lemon juice (from about 4-6 medium lemons)
½ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. unsalted margarine, cut in to 4 pieces

For the crust
Cover an 8-inch square cake pan with two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil, perpendicular to each other. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly, about 2 seconds. Add the butter pieces and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 °F. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

For the filling
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and whole eggs until combined. Add the sugar, Meyer lemon juice, zest and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds.

Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency (about 170 °F on an instant-read thermometer), about 6 minutes.

Immediately pour the curd through a fine-mesh steel strainer set over a medium bowl. Pour the curd into the warm crust.

Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 2 inch squares, wiping the knife blade clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve powdered sugar over the bars, if you'd like.

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