Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lemon-Orange bars

When I was a kid, I loved all things lemon flavored. Lemon Italian ices, lemon slushes, and lemonade. With one major exception up until today...lemon baked goods. I've never been a fan of anything that calls for a large amount of lemon juice baked right into it. The mere thought of it repulsed me, probably because I just couldn't understand why somebody would opt for a lemon cookie when they could have a chocolate chip cookie. Or a lemon cake, when there was a perfectly good chocolate frosted one right next to it. I just didn't get the fascination with  baked lemon desserts.

Well, things change. I'm older and wiser now, and have been learning my way around the kitchen considerably. This includes making and baking foods I ordinarily wouldn't, simply because that's the only way to continue to grow and learn as a cook.

With the second day of spring among us, I decided to try something fun, festive, and different (Different for me, not for the rest of the lemon lovers out there). I browsed the food network for awhile yesterday and came across a delicious looking lemon bar recipe by the amazing Barefoot Contessa.  I swear, that lady can make you crave foods you didn't even know you liked! Of course, it was a no brainer, I had to make her lemon bars today. I followed her recipe pretty closely, except I wanted to add my own twist, so I threw a little orange juice into the mix. After trying these bars once they cooled off, I am happy to report that I am now among the lemon lovers of the world. :)

Lemon-Orange Bars
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa's Lemon bars recipe

For the crust:
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • a dash of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl using a mixer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and sea salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine to make a dough. Roll the dough into a ball, and pat down into a 7x11 ungreased baking pan. Chill for 15 minutes in the fridge. After chilling, bake crust in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until barely light browned. Set aside to cool.

For the filling
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 large lemons)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 1-2 large oranges)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • confectioners sugar (for dusting)
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, white sugar, lemon zest, flour, lemon juice, and orange juice. Whisk well, until there are no lumps. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until just set. When lemon bars have cooled to room temperature, lightly dust with powdered sugar. Cut into large square or petite rectangles and serve with coffee or tea. Makes 8 large lemon bars or 24 petite rectangles.

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