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Perfect Lemon Bars

Although my family and I surely do enjoy chocolate treats, I have to admit that lemon bars are the perfect dessert for Spring.  I find a tart dessert like lemon bars particularly nice after a heavy meal, as they are refreshing and will not weigh you down. What I like about these bars is the way that the tart lemon flavor of the filling balances out nicely the sweetness of the tender crust. Also, this recipe for Perfect Lemon Bars, which comes from Cook’s Illustrated, was very easy to follow and involved little clean up.  The next time you get a hankering for something tart, give these bars a try. You won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

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The Crust

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra to decorate finished bars if desired
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter cut into 1-inch pieces. Butter should be at a very cool room temperature. You will also need some extra butter to prepare the pan. 

Lemon Filling

large eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
teaspoons grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons
2/3 cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained
1/3 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Instructions
For the crust:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and line with one sheet parchment or wax paper. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over it.

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Pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade.

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Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds. Then, pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three bursts lasting one second each.

(To do this by hand, mix flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Freeze butter and grate it on large holes of box grater into flour mixture. Toss butter pieces to coat. Rub pieces between your fingers for about one minute, which is when  flour turns pale yellow and coarse.)

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Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and press firmly with fingers into an even, 1/4-inch layer over entire pan bottom with about 1/2-inch going up the pan sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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For the filling:

While crust is in the refrigerator, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl. Then, stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, milk, and salt to blend well.

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To finish the bars:

Once the crust is golden brown, reduce  oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling mixture to reblend and pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Then, transfer pan to wire rack and cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes.

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Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar if desired.

Perfect Lemon Bars

 

Perfect Lemon Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 
Although my family and I surely do enjoy chocolate treats, I have to admit that lemon bars are the perfect dessert for Spring. I find a tart dessert like lemon bars particularly nice after a heavy meal, as they are refreshing and will not weigh you down. What I like about these bars is the way that the tart lemon flavor of the filling balances out nicely the sweetness of the tender crust. Also, this recipe for Perfect Lemon Bars, which comes from Cook's Illustrated, was very easy to follow and involved little clean up. The next time you get a hankering for something tart, give these bars a try. You won't be disappointed!
Ingredients
  • The Crust
  • 1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup confectioners' sugar, plus extra to decorate finished bars if desired
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter cut into 1-inch pieces. Butter should be at a very cool room temperature. You will also need some extra butter to prepare the pan.
  • Lemon Filling
  • 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons
  • ⅔ cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained
  • ⅓ cup whole milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon table salt
Instructions
  1. For the crust:
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and line with one sheet parchment or wax paper. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over it.
  3. Pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade.
  4. Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds. Then, pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three bursts lasting one second each.
  5. (To do this by hand, mix flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Freeze butter and grate it on large holes of box grater into flour mixture. Toss butter pieces to coat. Rub pieces between your fingers for about one minute, which is when flour turns pale yellow and coarse.)
  6. Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and press firmly with fingers into an even, ¼-inch layer over entire pan bottom with about ½-inch going up the pan sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  7. For the filling:
  8. While crust is in the refrigerator, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl. Then, stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, milk, and salt to blend well.
  9. To finish the bars:
  10. Once the crust is golden brown, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling mixture to reblend and pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Then, transfer pan to wire rack and cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar if desired.

About Daddy

I am a husband and a father of two kids with whom I love to cook and eat. In this blog, I hope to share with you not only some of my, as well as my family’s, favorite recipes, but also some interesting things I have learned or done as a husband, father, and cook.

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