Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July Lemon Bars

Make these patriotic and delicious lemon bars for a Fourth of July party or any other occasion. (I made these yesterday. My town celebrates on the 3rd... Yeah, I don't know why, either.) I may or may not have eaten four of these last night....

Anyway, here are some amazing red, white, and blue lemon bars from (where else?) The Best Recipe.

Lemon Bars:



1-3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch chunks


4 large eggs
1-1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2/3 cup juice from 3-4 large lemons, strained
1/3 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon salt


1 pound box strawberries
1/2 pint blueberries
Confectioners' sugar


Lightly butter a 13x9 inch baking pan and line with one sheet of parchment or wax paper. Dot sheet with butter and lay second sheet over it crosswise.
Pulse flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor with a metal blade. Add butter and process to blend, 8-10 seconds.
Pulse until dough is pale yellow with the consistency of a coarse meal, about 3 one-second bursts. (Depending on the heat/humidity, it may not achieve the coarse meal consistency. It's fine, mine was like Play-Doh and came out delicious.)
Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and press into a 1/4 inch crust.
Those are my friend Hannah's hands. She is awesome. 'Nuff said.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
During that time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After chilling, bake on center rack for 20-23 minutes until edges are golden brown and center is just beginning to color.

While dough is refrigerating and baking, make filling. Lightly beat eggs, then whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in a medium bowl.
Stir in lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt. Blend well.

When crust comes out of oven, reduce heat to 325 degrees. Stir filling, then pour into still-warm crust.
Bake until filling feels firm when gently touched, 20-25 minutes.
Transfer pan to wire rack and cool to near-room temperature.
Pull out of pan by holding lengthwise parchment paper.

Meanwhile, slice strawberries. Cut off end and slice middle into 4-7 thin slices, depending on size. Cut off other end.
Pat dry between paper towels. Sieve confectioners' sugar over bars and place strawberry slices in rows on top.
Place blueberries in gaps between strawberries. Slice into bars and serve.
Unfortunately, I didn't pause to consider how I would slice these, but my mom figured it out.
It took a lot of willpower to not snag one from the path of the pizza cutter.
I love lemon bars now. The crust is like a shortbread and adds a perfect buttery crunch to the custardy filling. The filling has the perfect amount of lemon–not so much that it overwhelms you and makes your mouth pucker, but enough so that you definitely notice that it's a lemon bar. You don't have to worry about getting the crust to a perfect golden brown during the first baking; the second finishes it perfectly. Mine was only brown around the edges. If you double this recipe, make the crusts separately. I tried to make them at the same time, but the food processor couldn't fit the flour mixture and three sticks of butter, so we tried to halve the flour mixture. One batch of dough was like sand, the other was like a cookie dough. If that happens to you, just knead the two together and divide in half. Make sure to dry the strawberry slices well. I didn't and they dissolved all the powdered sugar, rendering my red, white, and blue treats red, yellow, and blue.
You can see the sugar slowly disappearing...
You may wind up with extra fruit, but I'm sure you can find some way to use them.
For instance, you can put Edible Arrangements to shame.
The same goes for lemons–I used three for each recipe, but we have an awesome juicer.
If you juice by hand, you will probably get less juice from each lemon and use four. These are so good that they're definitely worth making any time of year.

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