Lemon bars are a bright, sunny dessert, perfect for a summery dessert or picnic.They're the perfect marriage of tangy and sweet, creamy and chewy. The treat is also an easy bake, especially on a hot day.
Julia Moskin write about these golden gems in today's New York Times Food section.Lemon bars are like chocolate chip cookies. People have definite ideas about how they should taste. They should pay homage to the lemon along with having golden brown crusts, and creamy curd fillings . Think of them as the home baker's version of a lemon tart.Traditional recipes call for a filling of lemon curd a preserve , using the fruit along with eggs, butter, and sugar. The recipe is based on the French tart aux citrons, an egg and cream rich lemon custard in a shortbread crust.It's also a cousin to the Southern classic lemon chess pie and surprisingly the brownie along with pumpkin bars and dream bars - those brown sugar, and chocolate squares. However unlike these, lemon bars have a thick bottom layer, sort of a cross between a pie crust and a cookie. This make these finger snacks as opposed to be eaten with a fork.(although brownies and bars are meant to be eaten with fingers)
As Ms. Moskin points out everyone has a definite idea and even recipe for them.Many Americans have grown up on Lucy's Lemon bars. named for the famed Peanuts character.It's a basic recipe with an easy to make base and interiror, consisting of a simple curd filling. Some baking blogs rework the recipe, adding cardamon to the crust and using Meyer lemons (bad idea - according to Ms Moskin. The lemons are mild in flavor - not what is wanted). The one twist is giving the crust a dose of sweetened coconut which can be made at home.It's just soaking coconut flakes in a simple syrup for thirty minutes . The recipe given is a straightforward one. There's only a cup of butter in the crust to two cups of flour to make a simple shortbread type crust. The filling is typical with four eggs to give it body along with half a cup of lemon juice for color and flavor. The crust should be GBD golden brown deliciousness as per pastry chef Shuna Lydon, from the famed restaurant Boudin. Confectioner's sugar is then dusted over the finished squares.
Lemon bars are a sweet and sunny way to celebrate the summer. Bake up a batch to enjoy the tart lemony goodness, married to a buttery crust. They're a fun, enjoyable snack.