Saturday, February 4, 2012

Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten's Wonderful Lemon Bars

Insanely good, decadently delicious, these are seriously the best lemon bars I’ve ever eaten. If I could give these bars twenty stars, I would! I made these last week for my daughter-in-law, who loves anything lemon. She adored them, my girlfriends visited, they adored them, we were all moaning with every bite. Not for the faint of heart, these lemon bars are intensey lemon flavored. They actually tasted like a lemon meringue pie without the meringue, they were so custardy inside.  Easy to make, too, my personal tweaks at the end of the recipe.  I will never look further than this for a lemon bar recipe, these are perfection. Thank you Ina Garten, what a National Treasure you are.


For the crust:
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crustand bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Source: FoodNetwork

And now for my tweaks -


I made a saddle of parchment paper (I sprayed the parchment with Pam just to be on the safe side) and put it in my 9x13 pan before patting in the crust. Putting a bit of additional flour on your hands really helps press them into the pan easily.

After I baked the lemon bars for the minimum time (just until they slightly jiggled but not brown, the tops were pale, with just a bit of browning around the edges) I put them in the refrigerator overnight. I didn’t cut them, I didn’t dust them with confectioner’s sugar, I just cooled them and put them in the fridge.

The next morning I lifted the edges of the parchment paper, they came out with just a little bit of a tug, I put them on a cutting board, and I put another cutting board on top and flipped them, then it was simple to peel off the parchment paper. It didn’t stick at all, thanks to the Pam. I then flipped them again so they were upright, cut them into large squares, took the cutting board, put it over the sink, used a strainer and dusted the squares heavily with confectioner’s sugar. I used a lot of powdered sugar.

I read all of Ina’s reviews before I made these, and decided to make her original recipe. There was a bit of confusion about the size of the pan, in the following video she says 9x12, but the website says 9x13, I used 9x13 and they were fine. But since I like all things thick, I might consider just the next size smaller pan the next time I make these.  But then again, these were pretty darned perfect...

A few of the reviewers complained that the filling tasted floury. I tasted one corner when they were warm, and I could detect a faint flour taste, but the secret lies with overnight chilling. This allows the flavors to marry, and trust me, you don’t taste flour, you taste lemon! Utterly delightful, yummy, fresh lemon. I think they are best cold, too. I learned from my elderly neighbor, who loves cold cake and bars, that things straight from the fridge do have a delightfully fresh, cool taste.

The bar in this picture was the last one, and it was a couple of days old by the time I photographed it, so I just gave it a fresh dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

I’ve made lemon bars many times, but never with results like this. I think in the past I always dusted with the sugar too soon and it soaked into the bars, and I never refrigerated them. But, oh what a difference a day in the refrigerator makes...

Give these bars a try the next time you want a WOW Dessert! OH WOW, OH WOW, OH WOW!!!!!!!!!

Here’s Ina’s original video, watch this and it will make everything oh so simple.


1 comment:

Kim Berens said...

Wow, I already liked nearly all your posts, but we also have the same blue plates! The one which your lemon bar sits! I take photos of my food and I find the blue can be a really distracting color, but with yellow, it looks good, the colors fit well together!