Lemon bars always fascinated me while I was growing up. It’s not that I believed the combination of lemons, flour and sugar could magically transport me to a 60s era, where children were allowed to play out in the street with no supervision and families could go to bed with their doors unlocked. It’s more the fact that no one ever made them when I was growing up because they aren’t a well-recognized dessert in Puerto Rico. Being a bilingual child though, I had seen enough movies and television shows to know that lemon bars always seemed to make people happy and were the perfect treat to make for friends.
So, after searching for a recipe that seemed both easy and true to the lemon bar image I had formulated in my mind as the years went by, I came upon the perfect one.
This recipe is simple (it uses six ingredients), quick (takes less than an hour) and tasty (as per many reviews from loved ones.)
Hell, these puppies provoke screams of nostalgia! After making some to take to class one day and putting them in plastic Tupperware, I was stopped by three different people in the street asking me if they were lemon bars and could I be convinced to give them away. So, here is the recipe (with a few adjustments made by yours truly) and step-by-step instructions
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup butter (or two sticks) softened
1 ½ cup white sugar
¾ cup lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoon lemon zest
Start off by heating the oven to 350 degrees. Let the butter soften to room temperature or place it in a microwave safe bowl and heat it for about 20-30 seconds on high. Measure and sift the confectioner’s sugar and flour into a large bowl. Take the butter and after cutting into smaller pieces, drop these a few at a time into the flour bowl and, using your hands, squeeze the butter into the dry ingredients until they sort of hold the shape of your fist if you squeeze some in your hand. Take this mixture and press it into the bottom of a 9×13 brownie pan. Place pan into the 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the crust has browned some.
In a smaller bowl, sift the white sugar. Cracking them into a smaller bowl first, to make sure each egg is good, add every egg one at a time into the bowl. As you add each egg, carefully whisk the mixture together. Slowly add in the lemon juice and lemon zest, all the while mixing the ingredients together. Once the crust is baked, remove from the oven and pour the liquid into the pan. Place inside the oven again, this time for twenty minutes or until the mixture has become set. It should look like lemon pie mix; set but without the edges of crust burning.
Each oven varies in temperature, so make sure to keep an eye on these bad boys. I should know, as I’ve made the mistake of leaving them in for too long before.
Once they’re done, take the pan out of the oven and let it cool off. Once it’s a reasonable temperature (as in, not scalding hot), take some more confectioners’ sugar and sift it over the top of the pre-sliced bars. I like to use the small sifter intended for coffee, since the pasta drainer in my apartment is too big.
Now you’re ready to slice and serve! Or just eat it out of the pan in the privacy of your own home, as you’ve taken the time to make a home-made dessert and no one deserves a treat more than you!
P.S. I’ll make it a point to make some more and upload the results. For now, here’s a picture I took of the lemons at my local grocery store.