Get ready for more lemon. I’m back from my weekend at home, and my mom and I did end up making Creamy Lemon Squares from the June 2008 issue of Everyday Food as a part of our Father’s Day brunch. We usually make a different lemon bar recipe that uses a pastry crust, but we thought it would be fun to give this one a try since it has a shortbread crust. Plus, these can be made up to 3 days ahead of time, which eliminated some potential stress on Sunday morning.
I started by buttering an 8-inch square baking pan. I lined it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 sides, and then buttered the paper. (Buttering the pan helps the paper adhere.)
To make the crust, I used an electric mixer to beat together 1 stick of unsalted butter (room temperature), 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt until the mixture was light and fluffy. I added 1 cup of all-purpose flour and mixed it in on low until everything was just combined. I pressed the dough into the bottom and a bit up the sides of my prepared pan and the pricked it all over with a fork. I baked the crust at 350F until it was lightly golden (20 minutes).
While the crust baked, I made the filling. In a large bowl, I whisked together 4 large egg yolks, 1 can (14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk, and 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice. I poured the filling over the hot, baked crust, returned the pan to the oven, and baked the cake until the filling was set (25 minutes). I cooled the cake completely in the pan (this took several hours) and then refrigerated it overnight.
Sunday morning, I used the parchment paper overhang to lift the cake out of the pan onto a cutting board. I pulled away the parchment paper and cut the cake into 16 bars to serve.
I forgot the powdered sugar sprinkle (dang it!), but these bars were really tasty. They weren’t quite as tart as most lemon bars I’ve tried, probably because of the sweetened condensed milk. I’m not sure this recipe will replace my old favorite (I’ve decided I prefer the pastry crust), but the bars were a great addition to the brunch table. The make-ahead factor was nice, and I appreciated the shorter ingredient list and simplified steps as well.
I have to leave town again unexpectedly for a few days, but I’ll try to post on the road. I’ve received a few requests (yay!), so I’m looking forward to firing the request line back up next week. Stay tuned!
TIPS: The crust dough was seriously sticky. I tried using a spatula, the bottom of a measuring cup, and my hands (all sprayed with Pam, of course), but I still struggled to push the dough into the pan. I managed to get it up the sides a bit (not quite a 1/2 inch, I’m sure), but it really didn’t matter in the end. Just do your best to press it evenly into the bottom; any side crust will be a bonus.
Recipe link: Creamy Lemon Squares