Monday, May 26, 2008

Lemon Bars

Since CSC (our guest baking blogger) is enamored with anything America's Test Kitchen (ATK),she was more than willing to try out new recipes. JS requested these lemon bars because we can't seem to get ourselves to make a lemon tart.

Here's the recipe in a nutshell.

Step 1: Preheat oven and prepare pan.
Step 2 & 3: Make the crust and bake.
Step 4 : Make curd. Whisk eggs/egg yolks with sugar, lemon juice & zest and butter.
Step 5: Strain curd, stir in cream. Pour onto warm crust and bake.

The recipe makes a note that "[it] is important to pour the warm filling over a warm crust when making these intensely flavored bars. This ensures that the filling cooks through evenly."

The first time I made these bars, I didn’t really read through the procedure. I figured I could just do them as I read along (which worked fine for the carrot cake, cupcakes and banana breads that I’ve done previously).

So, it was MAD PANIC when I got to Step 4!

I didn’t realize I had to zest and juice 4 lemons while the crust was baking, and do a whole bunch of stuff. Hard to do when your kids are around wanting to “try” and zest and juice and whisk. Good thing I found all the bowls I need and the strainers when I needed them.

The second time I made this, I made sure I had the juice and zest all ready, and the kids were playing outside, so the second time was no-more-panic-Step 4.

left: making the curd; right: lemon bars post-baking

JS liked the lemon bars chilled/refrigerated. ATK does not mention anything about refrigerating them, so I don’t know at what temperature the “real, kitchen-tested” lemon bars are supposed to be served.

The first batch of lemon bars weren't refrigerated. For the second batch, I insisted that they be refrigerated. That way, the curd would set nicely and be easier to cut.

I have a weakness for lemon bars. In fact, I have forbidden CSC, as of this writing, to stop making these lemon bars because I end up devouring all of them squares.

The first time CSC made them, I thought the curd on top didn't set right. It was too soft and it became mushy sitting out at room temperature. The too-soft curd did not stop me from eating almost all of the bars though. The crust was all right.

The second time CSC made them, the curd set up beautifully and had proper, proper form. The crust was a little bit too hard, not as flaky as the first time she made them. Again, this didn't stop me from eating all of the lemon bar squares.

When we were down to the last square, and I was savouring it after dinner, my nephew came up to me and asked if he could have the lemon bar. Normally, I would say yes, but this was. The. Last. Lemon bar.

I just smiled at him after his first request. Then he repeated it again and asked if he could have the last lemon bar.

I said, "It's the last lemon bar though."

He kept at it, hovering around me, and was trying to grab at my lemon bar, using his fingers to get at the lemon curd!

I told my persistent nephew, "No, you can't have it, especially if you're just going to eat the top part. Because, what am I going to do with just the bottom?"

I cut a piece of the. last. lemon. bar. and gave it to him.

I told him, "You try this. You have to eat it with the crust."

While he chewed, I told him, "See, it's so much better when you eat them both at the same time. There's the flaky crust and the soft lemon part together. It's more delicious that way."

I ended up giving him about half of the. last. lemon. bar. while I gave my niece about a quarter.

The. Last. Lemon. Bar.

CSC and CSC-collaborated blog posts:
Carrot Cake
Lemon Bars
Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies
Mario's Pine Nut and Ricotta Tart
Shanghai Potstickers, Faux Siu Mai and "Huo Tyeh" (aka CSC's Chinese Dumplings)
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Quick and Rice Chocolate Frosting

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