CHEW THIS! New Favorite Lemon Bars

New Favorite Lemon Bars

New Favorite Lemon Bars.JPG

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, April 21st 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

My new favorite lemon bars, updated!
Blaise Doubman

When developing recipes, I love creating something that becomes a new favorite, such as these lemon bars. Sometimes I take a favorite recipe and see if I can somehow make it even easier or tastier. Take for instance my chocolate mayonniase cake. I replaced the water in the recipe with freshly brewed coffee and the recipe instantly transformed into something even better than before! It is amazing what a little change here or there does to transform a recipe! People ask me all the time what they can do to make their baked goods taste better. My first question back to them is if they use salt in their baked good recipes. Most of the time they look at me puzzled and tell me no, salt is for savory items only! No! This is not true! Salt is very important in baked products and makes the final result taste so much better than something with no salt added. Sometimes I even sprinkle a little finishing salt on my final dessert.

I have shared a couple of lemon bar recipes in my cookbooks as well as a lemon bar recipe in a previous column that I shared here with everyone, but these lemon bars are my new favorites! I love the easy shortbread crust and the easy filling. These lemon bars are sweet and tangy without being overbearing in taste or texture. I could go on and on about how fabulous these are but I really think you need to make them so you can see for yourselves! These are also the perfect make ahead dessert bars because when left at room temperature, or even chilled in the refrigerator, the filling firms up and transforms into almost like a thicker pudding texture. Dust the final bars with powdered sugar if desired or even sprinkle a little powdered sugar and lemon zest combination on top for a little extra punch! These are perfect for the spring time!

New Favorite Lemon Bars

Feel free to dust as much, or as little, powdered sugar on top of these as you desire. I personally love them with a mountain of powdered sugar sprinkled on top but not everybody likes the taste or texture.

For the crust…
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon salt

For the filling…
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¾ cups white granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons white all-purpose flour
½ cup fresh lemon juice

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl combine the softened unsalted butter, white all-purpose flour, powdered sugar and salt with a fork. You may even want to use your hands for this. Once the mixture is combined, press lightly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place into preheated oven and bake for 33 minutes.

Once baked remove from oven. In a large bowl whisk together the lightly beaten large eggs, white granulated sugar, lemon zest and white all-purpose flour. Whisk in the lemon juice last and immediately pour the filling over the prebaked crust.

Place back into preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

The filling should be slightly giggly but still rather firm. The lemon bars will slightly thicken and firm up as they cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar, if desired and cut into squares. Leftovers should be kept refrigerated and will last 4 days if chilled.

Ask and Answer: I have been getting a few questions about a previous column and recipe for orange bars. People have been curious if they can freeze them in advance and then bring them to room temperature before serving. Yes! You absolutely can. What I would do, is bake the bars, cool and precut them. Wrap them well in aluminum foil and freeze them either in the pan or individually. Bring them to room temperature and then dust them with powdered sugar.

Sugar Cookie Crust Lemon Bars

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” November 6th, 2017

I LOVE anything and everything lemon! Lemon bars, lemon cookies, lemon candy, lemon brownies and did I mention lemon bars? If you browse my site you will find dozens of lemon based recipes! Well the recipe I am sharing today is also of the lemon, bar, variety and they are delicious! The base of the lemon bars are made from sugar cookie dough and the filling is foolproof! If you are looking for something new and different, these lemon bars are out of the box, unique, delicious and simple!

img_0621.jpg

Sugar Cookie Crust Lemon Bars

1 roll Pillsbury sugar cookie dough
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons white all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

Break up the sugar cookie dough with floured hands and sprinkle evenly into the prepared pan. Again with floured hands, press down and pat evenly to create a crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 24 minutes.

While the crust is baking combine the beaten eggs, white granulated sugar, white all-purpose flour, melted unsalted butter, fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Whisk until combined and frothy.

Pour over the hot crust and place back into the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool until room temperature. Wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and lift bars out of the pan using the foil overhanging handles.

Sprinkle evenly with powdered sugar.

Cut, serve and store chilled.

Enjoy!

CHEW THIS! Zesty Lemon Bars

Zesty Lemon Bars

img_0070.jpg

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, March 6th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Lemon bars bring brightness to winter days…
Blaise Doubman

We are entering the final weeks of winter, and lots of people online are pulling up their “spring inspiration” recipes for some much needed solace from the cold, snow and rain. I have been looking over my recipe files, and whenever I have the “winter blues”, I always head straight to one of my favorite dessert ingredients – lemon. Growing up, I hated lemon. My Grandpa Max and Grandma Deloris would always keep a small crystal bowl filled with lemon drops in their living room, and I would always just shrug them away. I would, however, occasionally suck on one long enough for the sugar that was dusted on the outer shell of the candy, to be dissolved in my mouth, but after that the candy went straight into the garbage. I didn’t start loving lemon until I found out I loved lemon bars. I had my first lemon bar in “Sweden” at Disneyworld’s Epcot. I loved the taste, the texture, the brightness and the zing I got from each bite. I don’t remember why I agreed to try the dessert, since lemon wasn’t my favorite flavor, but at the moment, I was so glad that I did. From them on out, I’ve loved lemon. Lemon brownies, lemon candy, lemon cupcakes, lemon scent, lemon lip balm… I’m addicted.

When developing this recipe, I wanted to stay close to home with simple tastes and textures. I had already gone “outside of the box” on my Blaise the Baker blog when awhile back, I developed a recipe for crunchy lemon bars, which incorporated saltine crackers. They’re delicious, but not what I was looking for here. I was looking for something bright, familiar and flavorful. Something that would take me back to the first time I had ever had lemon bars. After experimenting with several different variations of lemons and how to get the certain taste I was looking for, I finally did it. I found that, of course, using fresh lemon juice and lemon zest was the answer. Whenever I would mix in the lemon extract, the taste wasn’t as pure as I knew it could be. This recipe for my zesty lemon bars are a lemon dessert staple in my family that I make again and again.

Zesty Lemon Bars

This recipe has been perfected over the course of experimentation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your own twist on things. How delicious would these be with a cup of white chocolate chips stirred in before baking, or perhaps some lime juice and zest added to the mix? For a more tropical theme, incorporate a little pineapple juice, and top with chopped cherries once cooled. To get the one cup of lemon juice, as well as the four tablespoons of zest, you will need about 6-8 large lemons. Also always remember to zest the lemon first, before squeezing. Gently microwave your lemons for 10 seconds to get the maximum amount of juice from each lemon.

2 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cubed
6 large eggs
2 ¼ cups white granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Start by preheating your oven to 350-degrees F. Lightly spray a 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray and cut a square of parchment paper to fit easily on the inside of the pan. This will help you “lift” the bars out once they’re baked. Press the parchment down inside the pan, allowing for a little overhang of the parchment.

To make the crust, combine 2 cups of the white all-purpose flour (leaving aside the remaining ½ cup), powdered sugar and fine sea salt in a large bowl. Next, add in the cubed butter and using a pastry butter, fork, or your fingers, gently blend everything together until the mixture resembles course sand. This is almost like making pie pastry.

Once coarse sand is achieved, press this mixture, gently, into the prepared pan. Be sure to evenly press in the crust, taking some of the crust up the sides of the pan. This is important in holding the bars together, as well as how they will bake in the oven.

Place the crust into the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Once baked, remove from oven and sit aside to cool slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300-degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the large eggs and granulated sugar until smooth and light in colored. Next, add in the lemon juice and lemon extract and combine.

Finally, stir in the remaining ½ cup white all-purpose flour and pour into the crust.

Place back into the oven for 45 minutes, or until the lemon filling no longer jiggles.

Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature before lifting out of the pan. Dust with powdered sugar, cut and serve.