Ultimate Lemon Bars

Ultimate Lemon Bars

Makes 18 bars

Source: Rose’s Christmas Cookies

These luscious lemon bars are the ultimate because the lemon curd is cooked separately from the shortbread base, then baked together for the last few minutes. This provides a light, crisp base and a firm, rich topping that you won’t get by baking it all together. True, it does take a little more effort and you will have a few more dishes to wash, but in my book, the results are worth the effort.

Shortbread Base:

cup

butter

4

ounces

115

grams

2

Tbs

powdered sugar  (icing )

 

 

30

ml

2

Tbs

granulated sugar (caster)

 

 

30

ml

1

cup

flour (plain)

6

ounces

 170

grams

Preheat oven to 325F [165C]. Place oven rack in middle of oven.

Equipment: 8” X 8” [20 cm x 20 cm] or 7" x 11" [18 cm x 28 cm] baking pan , preferably metal.
Line the pan with aluminum foil.

Food processor method:

Cut butter into one inch cubes and refrigerate. With metal blade, process sugars for 1 min. or so, until very fine. Add butter and pulse until sugar disappears. Add flour and pulse until there are a lot of little moist crumbly pieces and no dry flour particles. Dump mixture into a plastic bag and press it together. Remove from plastic bag and knead dough lightly until it holds together.

Electric mixer or hand method:

Whisk together sugars. Cream butter with sugars until light and fluffy. With your fingers or electric mixer, mix in flour until incorporated.

Pat dough into prepared pan. Use a fork to prick dough all over.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and top is pale golden.

While shortbread is baking, prepare lemon curd topping.

Lemon Curd Topping:

4

large

egg yolks

 

 

 

 

 

cups

sugar    (caster)

6

ounces

170

grams

3

fl oz

lemon juice, freshly squeezed
(about 2 large lemons)

90

ml

4

Tbs

unsalted butter, softened

2

ounces

 60

grams

1

pinch

salt

 

 

 

 

2

tsp

lemon zest, finely grated

 

 

10

ml

2

Tbs

powered sugar (icing), for dusting

 

 

30

ml

Have a strainer, suspended over a bowl, ready near the range.
In a heavy, non-corrodible (not aluminum) saucepan, beat egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until well blended. 
Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and salt. 
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes, until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats a wooden spoon but is still liquid enough to pour (about 196F [91C] on a candy thermometer). The mixture will change from transparent to opaque and begin to take on a yellow color on the back of a wooden spoon.
It must not be allowed to boil or curdle. If steaming occurs, remove pan briefly from heat, stirring constantly to prevent boiling.

When the curd has thickened, pour it at once into the strainer. Press with back of spoon until only the coarse residue remains. Discard residue and stir in lemon zest.

When the shortbread is baked, remove it from oven, lower oven temperature to 300 F
[150 C] degrees, pour lemon curd on top and return to oven for 10 minutes.

Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate in pan for 30 minutes to set lemon curd completely. Place powdered sugar in a strainer and tap to sprinkle over top.

Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan without the foil. Use foil to lift onto cutting surface. Use a long, sharp knife to cut into bars. The powdered sugar will start to be absorbed into the lemon curd after several hours, but it can be reapplied before serving.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or in the refrigerator or freezer.

Keeps 3 days at room temperature, 3 weeks refrigerated, or 3 months frozen.

Makes 1 dozen bars, each 20” by 10 “ [7 cm x 3.5 cm].

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