04/12/13

“It’s Springtime in a Bar” Bars

Spring has sprung here in the Deep South. The dogwoods have popped (although they missed Easter), the azaleas are starting to show blooms, the days are longer and brighter, and I am starting to think about summer vacation plans, family BBQs, and summertime weddings.

With all of these happenings, my taste buds start to morph from the pot roasts, chili’s, hearty soups, and stews of fall and winter and crave lighter, more luscious, and ultra-flavorful food. One flavor that is predominant in Spring and Summertime is CITRUS!

I love citrus and soy marinated chicken breasts on the grill. I can’t wait to guzzle down a tall glass of lemonade or zest fresh lemon atop a pasta or potato salad… really wake those flavors up! So, in this time celebration of all things citrus, I wanted to share with you some lemon bars I made a few weeks ago. Man, were they good stuff!

Lemon Bars

(recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Parties by, one of my favorites, the great Ina Garten)

Ingredients:

for the crust…

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

for the filling…

  • 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

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See how gorgeous and pale the butter becomes when creamed with the sugar?  

3. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. You want the dough to just come together. Do not overmix!

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4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for about 15-20 minutes before baking.

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5. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on while you prepare the filling and the crust cools.

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6. Now it’s time to get busy! Grate 2 tablespoons of lemon zest and freshly squeeze 1 cup of lemon juice.

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I don’t mind telling ya… those triceps were burning baby!

7. To prepare the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set and no longer wiggly in the center. Let cool to room temperature.

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8. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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Look at that ooey-gooey center. I mean, how could these not be good?

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Oh, these bars were so good on our Easter buffet table and I know you will enjoy them all Spring and Summer long!

 

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