Quick & Easy Lemon Bars
I have confessed previously-not sure when, but I know I did at some point in time-that I love all things citrus. I take after my Mother in that respect. It is true that I inherited her facial features and love of music, but my Mom also loves all things lemon, and that is what we are focusing on today kids.
When I was a young, we returned home from school to lemon bars, still warm on the counter, more times than I can count. If Mom was craving something sweet, she made lemon bars. They were the first treat I saw her make where you had to bake them twice and I thought that was just about the coolest thing ever. The bars were quick to throw together and it made a 9 inch square pan. With eight people in the family taking some, there were no leftovers for the next day. And she wouldn’t just make lemon bars. She made a killer lemon meringue pie (another scientific phenomenon that I though was so neat), but more often than not, she would pull out the recipe and just make the lemon filling. We would all spoon hot, freshly made lemon pudding into our bowls and rarely get around to actually rolling out a crust, or whipping up the egg whites she had saved after using the yolks in the custard. It was the rich, lemony-ness that she wanted and let me tell you. It is hard to beat a rich homemade lemon custard.
I still think of my Mom any time I see or eat a lemon bar. Which are generally at the same time because if I see it, you can sure as heck bet on the fact that I am going to eat it too. The smell of them baking reminds me of our family kitchen, and eating them almost always prompts me to turn to my children and say, “Do you know who else loves lemon bars? Namma!” The kids cheer and I laugh, hopefully passing along the same sweet memories I had as a kid. It is something special for my children to know; that they have things in common with their extended family, despite the dozen or so states that currently separate us. It makes them feel closer.
Although I can’t help but wonder if my Mom somehow just knows when I pull a fresh pan of lemon bars, hot out of the oven, and set them on the counter as my kids arrive home from school… Lemon Bars
I have said it before and I will say it again-I LOVE LEMON BARS. I have been making different versions of them for as long as I can remember, but only recently settled on this recipe. Go figure, it was the first one I ever scribbled down for myself to test, hoping that they would turn out since I had completely guessed at all the measurements. Over the years I started adding a bit of cream to the filling, trying to mellow out the tang a bit. I know there is no zest in here but trust me when I say that you won’t miss it. These are not a super crazy, take you an hour to make, kind of bar. They are as streamlined and simple as I could make them, without sacrificing flavor. I may post another recipe sometime, making a fancier, more involved bar. But for now, when I want lemon bars, I make these. They never disappoint.
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 stick of butter, barely melted
1 c sugar
1/4 c lemon juice (taste testers surprisingly preferred the flavor of the batch made with bottled lemon juice instead of fresh, but its your call)
1 T flour
1 T heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray or grease a 9X9 inch pan, preferably glass.
Combine all the of the crust ingredients and press into the prepared dish, making sure the crust is even. Bake for 15 minutes. While the crust bakes, whisk all the filling ingredients together until smooth. When crust is done, remove the pan, give the filling one last whip, and pour the lemon mixture over the hot crust. Return the pan (carefully) to the oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the filling is JUST SET! Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Cut into bars and dust with powdered sugar if desired. Store bars in the fridge for 2-3 days, tightly sealed.