Lemon Bars – again

Yep! One more time, but this time I will take some to the office too. Share the love as it were –   or as my office says I’m just trying to make them fat – not really. But I made these for a friend for her birthday which is tomorrow. She will be 21.

But it is nice to make things that make people happy. And that is what I try to do.

When I used this recipe for the first time I was expecting the same kind of big failure that I have had before with this idea  – many times. But these were an amazingly pleasant surprise. dd_1599

Sometimes you just have to keep trying to see what will happen. In this case, this recipe is just golden. I do not think I will ever try another one for this favorite lemon bar cookie of mine. The crust and curd ratio is damn near perfect.

Right now I am trying (not very hard) to talk myself out of ordering lots of Meyer Lemons on-line since my little (Charlie Brown Christmas Tree version) of a Meyer Lemon did nothing for me this year. I think I have to pot it up*, but I am so not sure what time of year to do that because now it is blooming – and it smells like orange blossoms – because the Meyer is a cross between a lemon and an orange – it is just heavenly. There never seems to be a good time to pot it up and I will NOT plant this in the ground. It has spent 10 years with me and while not very promising, usually I get a couple Meyer lemons or maybe three. I always want it to be with me. Sounds strange, but when you invest yourself in something – well, there it is.  I may be reduced to ordering from California since our Palafox Market seems bereft of Meyer Lemons. Sad since it has been not such a terrible “winter” (and I use that word very loosely) for us so far.
We already have pollen on the vehicles and azaleas are blooming. This is not going to make an easy spring for us, um, at. all.

* That means putting it in a different (larger) pot. You weirdos.

So here, again, are lemon bars.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

 

 

“Meyer” Lemon Bars

I have this habit of asking people what they would like me to bake or cook for them. It keeps me interested in baking and cooking and pushes me outside of what I typically do. I do it at work, “what do you guys want me to make for the pot-luck?” and I do the same thing at my favorite restaurants. I think restaurant staff is not appreciated enough. Guess that comes from being a server ages ago. I hope they appreciate it, but it is more to get me to try to do different things.dd_1599

So I asked Berta, at my beach local, to tell me what she would like in the baking department, and she said my baking nemesis – lemon bars. I have not had good luck with these in the past – at all. That said, I was going to give it another go – it is a challenge after all. And I never back down from a challenge.

This is a recipe on my little USB drive of recipes that I have been working on for ages and I just sort of picked it out of the two I had. It was daunting – I have to admit that I was not comfortable trying this idea again. I did this on a Thursday because I figured if I fucked it up, I would have Friday to try again. And I am really not scared in the baking department, but you never know if things are going to go pear-shaped.

I have to say, I just cut a corner out of this and just got stupid over how good it was. That is, indeed, a good sign. I guess when I get silly about something in the kitchen, that makes me happy and pleased with myself. And that makes me think it will be something other people will like too.

Personally, I would like to keep the entire pan of these lemon bars to myself, but I won’t. But I will damn sure to make this recipe again. The original called for Meyer lemons, but I only have those when my (precious) little tree produces Meyer lemons and this is totally the wrong time of year, so I just used regular lemons. It was amazing. Stupidly so. Yeah me! yep.

Meyer Lemon Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

I think I made a few friends with these – at least I really hope so. Berta loved them and her daughter asked for them on her birthday at the end of November. I guess there are more lemon people than I had imagined. I shared one of my favorite lemon things ever – lemon, white chocolate chip cookies – they sound slightly weird, but they are stupid good.

And then in my head – lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for another person that is a lemon person. I think we have to stick together. There just are not that many of us. Lemon People Unite – or something?  No, that just does not work. I guess you chocolate people have us outnumbered. Again.

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Yes, once again with a lemon cookie, but this time we can say it is a Meyer Lemon cookie to make is sound strange and wonderful – which Meyer Lemons are.

So I am going to compare this recipe to my Lemon Sour Cream Cookies with Lemon Glaze because I love the cake-like texture and I think this cookie will have a similar texture – cake-like.

Caveat – read this whole post before deciding to make this – no, really. Then make this.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Over waxed paper sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer,  combine the butter and the sugar until light. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix to combine. Add in the dry ingredients, a little at a time.
Spoon the dough –  I use a cookie scoop –  onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes – turn half way through the baking, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet a few minutes.

Glaze: Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.

Notes: This came together really easily, but I have to say, I was disappointed in this recipe. The cookie was sticky and lacked flavor. It makes me sad. I will be going back to my Lemon Sour Cream Cookies with Lemon Glaze.

I am not sure how to deal with recipes that just do not work out for me, but this is one of those.   Do you keep it in the cookie binder with a big “Hell No” on it? I would like to depend on my memory, but I am not sure I can. Maybe my visual memory will work that way, but I am not sure the rest of me can work that way. – Ugh.

Will not go into sources, because that does not seem fair. This just did not work for me – hence no picture, but at least a warning in case you see something similar. The Lemon Sour Cream Cookies, those, I can totally vouch for and have been making for years.

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Butter Usage – by month – March 2016

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Meyer Lemon Bars

8 March – 16 Tbs – Raisin Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

11 March – 6 Tbs – Guinness Brownies

11 March – 16 Tbs – Pie Crust

12 March – 8 Tbs – Apple Walnut Pie

20 March – 13.5 Tbs – Walnut Muffins

24 March – 11 Tbs – White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

25 March – 16 Tbs – Meyer Lemon Bars

86.5 = 10.8125 sticks = 43.25 ounces = 2.703125 pounds

Not embarrassing, to say the least – in the butter use department. And I have to say that butter pie crust was so amazingly good. Now I am feeling slightly guilty about knowing the source for it. Will dig through lots of papers to figure it out.

Meyer Lemon Bars

Yep, Lemons for Easter. I just cannot help myself. It is citrus season, at least here (i.e. in Florida). My own little Meyer Lemon Tree, as I have said before, is a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree sort of lemon tree. This year it gave me my biggest crop ever – 3 Meyer Lemons. Sounds paltry, but I’ve raised this baby from barely a seedling to something that produces fruit and I feel a strong, but undeserved, sense of accomplishment. I think we (me and the tree) are about ten years in now.

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Meyer Lemon Shortbread Bar

Meyer lemons are just so lovely. I have waxed poetic about them before. It is blooming right now for the next season and I need to take photos as the year goes along. The deluge this past week, I hope, will help, but I’m not sure. We will see. The Meyer lemon blossoms smell like orange blossoms. So nice …. There is just nothing like that.

Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
Ice cold water

Filling:
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest – 1 Meyer lemon
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Topping:
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan, line with parchment to overlap all the edges and spray the parchment too.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water, one tsp at a time until dough comes together. Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan, pressing against the edges.

Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden. Golden on the edges seems to be the key.  Set pan on a wire rack and cool for about 5 minutes. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

Whisk eggs and sugar for filling until well combined and lighter in color. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and a pinch of salt. Pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes or until set at the edges but still a little bit wiggly in the center.

Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.  Remove by lifting parchment. Cut into squares. Dust with 3 Tbs of confectioners’ sugar.

25 March 2016 – Good Friday – For Easter with the family.

Source: Epicurious

Notes: This is the first time I have used this recipe.  So I’m using my treasured Meyer lemons on a total gamble. Probably not smart, but what the hell. You cannot keep them forever. No matter how much you would like to.

I pushed the crust into the bottom, but I really felt like I needed to push it up the side like you do with a graham cracker crust for pie. But I am glad I followed the recipe. Though I was worried that the lemon curd part would leak down and make a whole mess if it. But it did not. I think the key thing here is have the correct sized pan. Because it worked and was, thanks to my home-grown Meyer Lemons, just slightly stupidly amazing. Even if I do say so myself. And yes, yes, I do.

My Little Meyer Lemon Tree

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My Little Meyer

My little Meyer lemon tree. I’ve had it for 8 years now in a pot and it is the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of Meyer lemon trees, but this is my best crop ever  –  3 Meyer lemons. I am way too excited. Yes, this is kind of sad.

The first time I had Meyer lemons I really did not have any idea what they were – same thing happened with blood oranges, but that is a different story entirely. There was a little farm stand in Tallahassee not far from my place on Thomasville Road. These lemons were amazing. I had already been making lemon curd – Thank you Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts (had this book for donkey years), but I knew this would take it to something much more elevated (even if I did not know that word at the time – which I did not).  Although I never had fresh eggs like Martha did – just check out the book – it does make a difference. Meyer Lemon is a heritage Citrus × meyeri, and is a citrus fruit native to China thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin. That’s what I like to think since I grew up very near where the real mandarin oranges are from – Mandarin, Florida (Jacksonville) – yep. A very beautiful little area.

So I ordered this “tree” online for $20 and it was barely a seedling, but I baby it year after year.  And I do love the smell of orange blossoms – which is what Meyer lemon blossoms smell like. It is such a nice thing in the late winter. It gets dark so early you just grasp at straws at this point. Even for us in Florida.

Meyer lemons are probably the best part of the winter. My wonderful mother-in-law has a friend that has a real grown up tree, just a neighborhood away and I always score a few Meyer lemons from her. So super. I kind if cherish them in a way, which make me hesitate to use them and that’s a bad thing.

So I shall makes some plans and Meyer lemon curd will be in the works before you know it.