It's time for some sunshine. I'm so ready for spring, but it's going to be a little while yet.... there are still some piles of snow left on the ground and it's been a chilly, rainy day. So I decided to take some action and bring the sun inside. I found Meyer lemons at the grocery store and snagged two bags to hoard in my refrigerator. If you could taste sunlight, this is it. Imagine standing in a field of citrus-scented blossoms and you get an idea of what the Meyer lemon experience is like, except that you can taste that heady aroma, too. Their season is so short, but that makes the joy of finding them and the pleasure of using them so satisfying.
After much deliberation and recipe-searching, I decided on lemon bars to showcase these little beauties' unique flavor. I took the picture above to show you the difference between a regular lemon and a Meyer lemon. A cross between a tangerine and a lemon, the Meyer is a fruit I've only just come across in our Ohio grocery stores in the last two or three years. It can be hard to find and has a short season (starting in November/December and ending in February/March). When you see one, grab it... it may not be there next time!
I have fond memories of my mom making us lemon bars, but in a family of six they never lasted very long. She always made them in an 8" square pan and they would be gone that same day. I decided I wanted an abundance of lemon bars, so I made them in a 9x13" baking pan. I used Ina Garten's recipe for the crust and doubled the amount of the filling in the Land o' Lakes recipe that my mom used. It's the best of both worlds, really, since this gives you an equal layer of shortbread crust and lemon custard filling. Click here for a picture of the original and Smitten Kitchen's adaptation of the recipe. I like a sleeker, more portable bar (which also used fewer lemons, so I have extras to use in a different recipe... like lemon curd, perhaps... ) but I might try the variation with more lemon filling next time. These are the classic dessert from my childhood, though, and they were even more delicious with fragrant, seductive Meyer lemons.
Meyer Lemon Bars
adapted from Ina Garten and Land o' Lakes
makes about 24
2 c. flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. cold butter, in cubes
1 1/3 c. sugar (or to taste- SK used 1 2/3 c. for regular lemons; Meyers are less acidic)
1/4 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 T. lemon zest
1/2 c. lemon juice
Powdered sugar, to serve
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 13x9" baking pan with parchment or coat generously with cooking spray. For crust: In large bowl combine flour, powdered sugar and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Press into bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes, until just lightly browned. In another bowl, combine eggs and sugar; blend well. Stir in rest of ingredients. Pour into warm crust. Return to oven and bake 18-25 minutes, until golden and set in center. Cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar.