I love really good lemon bars. Unfortunately, most lemon bars out there don't taste as good as they look. I mostly find them to be disappointing as they are too sweet, not lemony enough, and seem to have been thickened with corn starch. In my search for finding the perfect recipe to make on my own with the mouth watering tang I yearned for, I had to kiss a lot of frogs. It is not as simple as playing with ratios, or adding more juice or zest. The crust and texture of the lemon bar is just as important as the flavor.
I worked my way through my cookbook library turning to my favorite doyennes of pastry for guidance. I hit the mark with Alice Medrich's recipe. This was no surprise as all of her recipes are superb. Just the right amount of pucker, perfect texture, and the most brilliant method for making the crust with melted butter. This recipe is the absolute best.
Adapted from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies (Warner Books; 1999), by Alice Medrich
|8 tablespoons||unsalted butter|
|1 teaspoon||vanilla extract|
|1/4 teaspoon||sea salt|
|1 cup||all purpose flour|
Melt the butter and mix in the remaining ingredients until a smooth dough is formed. Line an 8 inch square pan with foil (I recommend non-stick foil) and press the dough evenly into it. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
|3 tablespoons||all purpose flour|
|1 teaspoon||lemon zest|
|1/2 cup||freshly squeezed lemon juice|
Beat all of the ingredients for the filling together and set aside.
When the crust is golden brown, it is ready for the filling. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Without removing it from the oven, pour the filling into the pan. It is best to carefully slide out the oven rack to pour in the filling to enable this process.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the filling is firm. Cool completely and cut into 16 squares. If you are preparing them for a larger group and just want small tastes, cut into smaller squares.
They keep well refrigerated for about 3 days. I would not necessarily recommend freezing them, but I have tried it and they hold up quite well.