Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Layer Upon Layer of Big Lemon Flavor - Childhood Lemon Bars

About a week ago, my friend Spryte over at Spryte's Place, posted a recipe that took me back to my childhood before we moved to the country. She made Meyer Lemon Bars. Sadly, I used the last of my stashed Meyer Lemon juice to make Lemon curd and now they seem to have become elusive again. You see, way WAY back, when I was still knee high to a grasshopper, my mother would host Tupperware, Princess House and Home Interior parties. Yes, we lived in the little suburban town of Troutdale on a Cul-de-Sac. (being French for "Bottom of the Bag" or "Dead End Street"; Which is really funny, because the French use the term "impasse a la voltaire" instead)

Whenever my mother was hosting a party, or attending a fellow suburbanite’s shin-dig for that matter, she made Lemon Bars. Wanna know a secret? I use to snitch them when she wasn't looking. As an adult, I am ashamed of this behavior, well, at least kind of. However, at the time? It was worth any potential punishment that may have been doled out if I had gotten caught. (I know my mother is going to be reading this, so the jig is up... I'm in trouble now. Show of hands please... Can I still get sent to my room at 40? )

They were absolutely delicious. Their soft lemon custard layer, the crispy butter cookie bottom layer, YUM. I salivate even now. My mom has not made them since about 1976 maybe 77 and when I called looking for the recipe, neither she nor my dad had any idea which recipe it was, nor could any of us remember why my mom quit making them, because they rocked!

Now the funny part… Somewhere, deep within the mind of my inner child, I remember there being a third layer on these Lemon bars, Mom says “No” and Dad doesn’t know, but I swear it wasn’t just the thin crust that forms on the top, and it wasn’t the powdered sugar that is typically sprinkled over the top either. Then again, I was only in 2nd grade, so it could have been a neighbor’s recipe that I am remembering or I am mixing up the lemon glaze from the zucchini cookies with the Lemon Bars.

Who knows, but NOW I have to pursue this further cause it’s going to drive me crazy. Yes, my OCD has kicked in again. So here we go… Armed with a WHOLE LOTTA lemons, I am embarking upon the quest of the Childhood Lemon Bar (or at least the one I have invented in my mind).

Cookie Crust
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 cup Unsalted Butter (room temp)
1 TB Lemon Zest
2 cups AP Flour
Pinch of Kosher salt

Lemon Custard Filling
5 Large Eggs
1 Egg Yolk
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
5 TB Flour
1 cup Lemon Juice
2 tsp Lemon Zest
pinch salt

Lemon Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp Lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325.
In large bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Mix in the Lemon Zest.
Add Flour and Salt, mixing until crumbs form.

Press into the bottom and 1/2" up sides of a 9" x 13" pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is just set.

While crust is in oven; beat eggs and yolk with electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Gradually add sugar, beating until light yellow and thick.

Whisk Baking Soda and Flour together in a small bowl and add to the Egg/Sugar mixture.

Add the Zest to the Lemon juice to keep it moist. But WAIT.... Do not add the Lemon juice and zest until the crust has come out of the oven, or you will loose the leavening of the baking soda.

About 1 minute before the crust is done, beat in the Lemon Juice, Zest and a pinch of salt.

Pour the filling over as soon as it is beaten together.

Return to oven and bake for 25-35 minutes or until filling is set and light golden brown on top.

Let cool completely then mix up the glaze in a small bowl by combining confectioners’ sugar, melted butter, lemon zest and lemon juice; mixing until smooth.

Pour over cooled bars.

Refrigerate until cold before cutting into bars.

Verdict - Super tart, in fact, maybe I should have added another couple of TB to the custard mixture. WOW! Delicious though. At least for a sourpuss like me. But, these are not what I am thinking of, I am evidently confusing some other bar cookie that my mom use to make with Lemon Bars. So the Hunt continues as to what I am remembering versus the cookie bars that she use to make WAY back when in Troutdale.



Spryte said...

mmmmm... I LOVE lemon stuff! Those look soo good!!!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Whether or not these are it, they sure sound and look delish!

Unknown said...

those look awesome. I am so jealous of the people you work with!!