Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lemon squares

Lemon squares or lemon bars are a perfect combination of buttery shortbread crust and a sweet yet tart lemon custard. These are one of my favorite baked goods to make because they're simple, easily impress, and, of course, delicious.

I've been using a recipe I found on Allrecipes since I first started making these and it's a great recipe, but I wanted to switch it up and decided to use Chef John's Lemon Bars recipe. I'm usually excited to try Chef John's recipes ever since James got me watching foodwishes (Chef John's blog name) videos on YouTube. I've already tried a few of his recipes with yummy results, so I was confident this recipe wouldn't fail me. The recipes aren't drastically different, as they use similar ingredients, but in the end I think I like Chef John's recipe more. It turns the crust into something more like a shortbread cookie, uses a bit less sugar (which I do anyway when I modify recipes), and creates a more custardy lemon filling with the use of the egg yolk instead of an additional whole egg. You can still use a whole egg instead of the yolk if you really don't want to go through the trouble of separating the egg. It doesn't change the recipe that much, but I'd recommend following the recipe if you can.

Below is the recipe from Chef John's website and the directions I got from his Allrecipes submission.

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

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


1. Place an oven rack into middle position in oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil an 8x8-inch baking dish.
2. Place 1 cup flour and butter in a mixing bowl and mash with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Mix in 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and salt; mash mixture together until mixture looks like a slightly crumbly cookie dough.
3. Moisten your fingers with a little water and press dough into bottom of prepared baking dish. Use a fork to prick holes all over the crust.
4. Bake crust on center rack in the preheated oven until crust edges are barely golden brown, 22 minutes.
5. Beat eggs and egg yolks together in a bowl; whisk in white sugar and 2 tablespoons flour until smooth. Add lemon juice and lemon zest; whisk for 2 minutes. Pour lemon custard over crust.
6. Bake on center rack until custard is set and top has a thin white sugary crust, 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Dip knife into very hot water, run around the edge, and cut into 16 squares. Dust cookies with 1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar.

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