We constantly fight chocolate dessert versus lemon dessert wars at home. Three members of the family against one, where I represent the minority camp. But I am hanging in there, little by little converting the chocolate addicts to fancy lemon-laden sweets now. I think it’s working. Last time I made these luscious lemon bars, they happily devoured most of them, leaving only a sample-size piece for me.
If you are in my camp, you will love these bars. If you are a chocolate addict, you too will love them, maybe not immediately, but gradually for sure. They are super easy to make. They melt in your mouth and—warning—are dangerously addictive. Viva lemon!
Classic Lemon Bars
Adapted from “Luscious Lemon Desserts,” by Lori Longbortham
Makes 16 lemon squares
You will need approximately 2 lemons for this recipe
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 + 3/4 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, plus additional for dusting
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Butter an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan.
Whisk together 1 cup of the flour, 1/4 cup of the confectioner’s sugar, the zest, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knifes used scissor-fashion, or rub with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Knead the dough in the bowl until it begins to come together.
Transfer the dough to the baking pan and press it evenly into the bottom. Bake for 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack while making the filling.
Whisk together the remaining 1+1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour, and the baking powder in a small bowl.
Beat the eggs with an electric mixed on high speed in a medium bowl for about 2 minutes, or until tripled in volume. Reduce the speed to low, add the sugar mixture and beat just until blended, scraping down the side of the bowl. Add the lemon juice and beat just until blended.
Pour the lemon mixture over the still warm crust and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the filling is just set in the center. (It may or may not brown on top depending on your oven. My big oven doesn’t brown it, my small one does as in the picture below.) What’s important is that the filling is just set.) Let cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Just before serving, lightly sift confectioner’s sugar over the cookies and cut into 2-inch squares. Store in an airtight container.