I believe the exact term, according to the recipe, was “Luscious Lemon Bars.” Who can resist a word like luscious? Something about that ‘sh’ sound in the middle makes it sound positively decadently wonderful and when it comes to baking, I am so so weak. Plus, I had these beauties:
Meyer Lemons, how I love you!
I saw them at Whole Foods, a whole basket of them sitting temptingly near ugly hard skinned lemons, and couldn’t resist buying some (the trickery!). They’re thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange, so they’re sweeter than the typical lemon and their skin is thinner and more orange-colored. They also feel softer when you pick them up and seem to juice easier, too.
I had so many thoughts on what to do with these, I didn’t know where to begin. But then I saw this recipe and I was sold. After all, it used the word ‘luscious’ and I believe we have since established what a persuasive word that is!
After grating, baking, zesting and juicing my little heart out:
Can you taste the lusciousness? CAN YOU?
My thoughts were that they could definitely use less sugar, probably about 1/4 – 1/2 cup or so. I even spent some time debating this while making the filling and the little voice inside my head went something like this:
mental-me: You know, I always think the lemon filling in lemon bars is too sweet so I should probably cut back the sugar.
mental-me: But we are talking about lemons, which are tart, so perhaps all that sugar is justified.
mental-me: (dumps in sugar)
mental-me: Oh, but wait, I’m using meyer lemons, which are sweeter.
The number of times I have inner dialogues in my head, ignore myself and then regret it later are just too many to be numbered.
So yes, they were a bit sweeter than I wanted. I also think I like lemon bars without that signature powdered sugar dusting. They’re already tooth-achingly sweet and there’s no need to hurl yourself at diabetes. 🙂
Also, I totally amped up the lemon zest. You have to juice, like, 3.5 of these little lemons to get the requisite 1/3 cup of juice so might as well take advantage of the lovely zest from all of the lemons. What else are you going to do with it?
When you make the shortbread crust, it will basically feel like a loose powder. Sort of like how pancake mix feels – if you pinch it, it’ll stick together for a second before crumbling apart again. Pressed in the pan, it won’t feel like anything that could make a crust. But I watched it while it was in the oven, it’s a pretty neat transformation. All that lovely butter just melts and binds all the flour together. I’d recommend grating the butter because it’s the easiest method, though “easiest” is relative. I firmly believe there is no easy way to cut butter into flour.
In my life, I’ve only made 2 other lemon bar recipes. One was my friend MacKenzie’s, who I swear has the magic touch with lemon bars, as mine were a mess and hers are always amazing. The other was from the Tartine cookbook (of San Francisco Tartine Bakery fame), which I think was delicious but a lot of (sometimes unnecessary) work, if I recall.