Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunny Summer Lemon Bars

I don't know what it is, maybe the color, maybe the refreshing taste of citrus, but lemons always equal summer to me. I use a ton of them, from slices in my water or iced tea, to squeezing over salad for a refreshing alternative to dressing, I buy them by the bagful when the weather starts to heat up.

One of my favorite summer treats are lemon bars. The creamy, tart filling with the rich, buttery crust is irresistible! So when I saw a recipe posted on the New York Times website, I had to give it a try. This particular recipe is a little different from the one I normally make, in that it uses egg yolks in addition to regular eggs and olive oil as the surprise ingredient. They were also sprinkled with a touch of sea salt. The technique was also different, because it called for cooking the filling, essentially making a curd, before you poured it over the crust and baked for a little bit longer.

As you might be able to tell from the photo, this version has a much deeper yellow color, thanks to the egg yolks. It also called for adding lemon zest to the crust as well as the filling. I found, however, that you really couldn't taste the lemon in the crust, since the filling had such a strong lemon flavor. If my family's reaction was any indication, you can save your olive oil for salad dressing (or maybe these little cakes), because only one out of three preferred this kind of bar. It was good, but overly rich -- too rich for something lemony, in my opinion.

Just for comparison, I made the version from my Cook's Illustrated cookbook (an excellent book, by the way - it's a great, basic cookbook). The sacrifices I make for you people! LOL! This recipe was more traditional (at least for the lemon bars I've been exposed to) in that you whisk all the filling ingredients together and pour directly onto the hot crust, then bake (be careful transferring the pan back into the oven!) until the filling is set. Martha Stewart has a recipe that's very similar (just cut the sugar back a little and add lemon zest from one lemon to the filling). I preferred this version. I thought it was a cleaner citrus taste and the crust was lighter (flakier?).

If you love lemon bars as much as I do, maybe you would like to try these, too. Let me know what you think!

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