What makes these so spectacular is the large amount of lemon juice. It's enough to satisfy my craving for tart, borderline sour, citrus desserts. The few times I actually buy lemon bars are always a huge disappointment and a lesson which I will never learn. I fall for the bait all the time when they claim to be 'tart', yet 99% of them are far too sweet with only a hint of puckery lemon. After I found this recipe, I don't think I will ever have to look around for another.
(recipe found on FineCooking)
* printer friendly Recipe *
8 Tbs (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 Tbs. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp. baking Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Lemon curd Ingredients:
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4 to 6 lemons)
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
2 Tbs. heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. almond extract
To make the shortbread
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars with a hand-held mixer on medium speed (or mix by hand with a wooden spoon) until light and fluffy, about 5 min. Beat in the vanilla until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
In a medium bowl, sift together both flours, the baking powder, and the salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, scraping down the sides, until the flour is completely blended and the dough is homogenous.
Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a sheet of plastic. Wrap well and press down to form a 1/2-inch-thick square. Refrigerate the dough until it's firm but still pliable, about 20 min. Heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two sheets of parchment or waxed paper, each at least 11x11 inches. If using waxed paper, grease an 8x8-inch metal or glass baking pan with butter.
When the dough is firm, unwrap it and put it between the sheets of parchment or paper. Roll the dough to an approximate square, slightly larger than 8x8 inches and about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment or paper, trim the dough with a dull knife to an 8x8-inch square, and, if using parchment, put it and the dough into an 8x8-inch baking pan. If using waxed paper, flip the dough into the greased pan and peel off the paper. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan, letting the excess parchment come up the sides (trim it to about 1 inch above the rim). The dough should be an even thickness all around but it needn't be perfectly smooth. Bake until the shortbread is light golden on top, 25 to 30 min.; in a glass pan, look for a golden brown color on the bottom. Remove the pan from the oven, but keep the heat set to 350°F as you make the lemon curd.
To make the lemon curd
In a medium saucepan, heat the lemon juice, butter, and cream to just under a boil; the butter should be melted. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together by hand the sugar, eggs, and yolks until combined. Whisk in a bit of the hot liquid and then gradually whisk in a bit more until it's all added. This technique, called tempering, heats the eggs slowly and gently so they don't curdle.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat on medium, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to keep the eggs from scrambling. Cook until the lemon curd coats the spoon thickly enough to leave a line when you draw your finger through, 5 to 8 min. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Stir in the salt and vanilla.
Pour the curd over the baked shortbread and smooth it evenly with a spatula, if needed. Bake until the curd has set and jiggles like firm jello, 15 to 20 min. Let cool to room temperature. Gently tug on the parchment on all sides to loosen the bars from the pan. Lift them out and onto a cutting board and refrigerate until the curd has completely set, at least 4 hours.