There are some classic desserts (chocolate chip cookies!) that you make over and over again, and to crave them is often to crave a specific, perfect recipe. Maybe it was your grandmother’s recipe, maybe your mom cut it out of the newspaper, or maybe you found it on Instagram — it’s yours now. Lemon bars are that sort of nostalgic dessert, and this is the recipe we’ll keep tucked in our apron pocket forevermore.
How did it earn our undying loyalty? First of all, the lemon custard is ridiculously easy to make. (Read: no boiling, no fussy curd!) All you have to do is whisk together lemon, sugar, eggs, and a little flour, and pour the concoction on the crust. It’s still got that gooey, smooth custard texture, and the flavor is dynamite: bright and lemony and perfectly sweet, which is to say very sweet. Isn’t that just how it should be?
Second, we rejiggered the custard-to-shortbread crust ratio — in favor of the crust. The benefit is that you have even more light, buttery crunch to balance out all that sweet, sweet lemon custard. It also makes the bars more sturdy than the traditionally custard-heavy lemon bars, so they travel better.
Lemon bars are so summery, they’re made for eating outside in the sunshine. Take them on a picnic to the beach, or better yet, drive them across town to a social distancing barbecue with the BFF’s family.
For the crust:
½ lb unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
⅛ tsp kosher salt
For the lemon filling:
5 large Gelson’s eggs, room temperature
1 ⅔ cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp grated lemon zest
⅔ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 9x13x2” baking pan.
To make the crust: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light, about 1 to 2 minutes.
In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter until just mixed and starting to come together.
Flour your hands, gather the dough into a ball, and place it in the greased baking pan, flattening it evenly into the pan. Freeze for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the dough is firm.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
To make the lemon filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set.
Let the bars cool to room temperature, cut into squares, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Recipe adapted from: Smitten Kitchen