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Classic Lemon Bars

Serves: Makes 36 (1½-inch) squares

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Vanilla Shortcrust Dough, prepared through Step 2
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (1¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup (5⅔ ounces) strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

  • Vanilla Shortcrust Dough: Click for recipe ยป


Procedures:

Eyes light up at the sight of these tart and refreshing favorites. A soft, puckery lemon filling atop a vanilla-scented shortcrust is just the ticket after a rich winter meal, and it is also a refreshing treat on a hot summer day. Okay, okay, it's great anytime. Surprisingly easy to make, these bars deliver a lot of satisfaction for the amount of elbow grease invested. Of course lemon is the classic, but you could substitute lime juice as well. Or, for a more exotic version, try an equal amount of passion fruit juice instead of the lemon juice.

Line the pan with foil across the bottom and up all four sides, then lightly coat with melted butter, oil, or high-heat canola-oil spray. With the spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared pan and press it into an even layer across the bottom of the pan. Chill for 30 minutes.

Bake the chilled crust for 35 to 45 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

Whisk the eggs and granulated sugar together in the medium bowl. Whisk in the flour until there are no lumps. Whisk in the lemon juice. Pour the filling over the crust. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the filling is set and does not jiggle when you tap the side of the pan. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool, refrigerate for 1 hour.

To serve, grasp the foil and lift the cookies out of the pan. Set them on a cutting surface. Gently peel back the foil, using the tip of a thin knife or small spatula to help separate the bars from the foil if necessary. Cut into 1½-inch squares and transfer to a serving plate or storage container. Just before serving, use a fine-mesh strainer to dust confectioners' sugar over the tops. (Wait until the last minute to do this or the confectioners' sugar will soak into the filling and look blotchy.)

Storing: The bars keep well at room temperature for 1 day. For longer storage, keep them airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The bars cannot be frozen, however, because the crust becomes soggy when defrosted.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing, The Art & Soul of Baking

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