I never thought this day would come- it’s finally March! Every winter season I tell myself that all I have to do is get through January and February and then it’s smooth sailing through Spring! Even though March may very well be just as cold and dreary as the earlier months of the year, my birthday a week in and the slightly warmer weather seems to make all the difference. (And lucky for me, I’ll be in Europe for 2 weeks of the month so it’s pretty much the best month EVER.)
It seems to me that the first day of March warrants something bright and sunny don’t you think? Nothing screams sunshine to me quite like a bright and tart lemon bar. This recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is especially wonderful because you can make the entire thing in a food processor. Given my dishwasher-free existence- I am an instant fan of recipes that are dish efficient- and this one is just that.
Awhile ago, the lovely folks at KitchenAid sent me a 13 cup Food Processor to review and I’ve been waiting for a chance to really put it to the test. I figured it’s high-powered blade could would be perfect for puréeing an entire lemon right? One of the cool features of this particular appliance is that in addition to the normal bowl there is another small bowl/blade that nests into the top. I made the crust in the top one and then tossed that into the sink and made the filling in the main bowl. (Nothing is more annoying to me than having to wash dishes mid-recipe. )
I really love this machine and found it easy to use and super smooth while running. Another feature I’m excited to try is an adjustable slicing. Though I have a mandolin, (a wedding gift I have yet to use,) it seems like an easy way to slice thin apples or other fruits/veggies!
I wasn’t so sure how these bars would taste with the whole lemon in there, (skin, pith and everything,) but I was so pleased with the taste! They were perfectly tart and also sweet, with a creamy texture and a thick shortbread crust. They came together in no time and I’m sure this is a classic recipe I’ll be making again and again!
Disclaimer: KitchenAid sent me a food processor to review, but the opinions written are entirely my own!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon, unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus extra for greasing pan
- 1 small-to-medium-sized lemon (about 4½ ounces, or about 3 inches long)
- 1-1½ cups sugar*
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- Place a rack in middle of the oven and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut two 12- inch lengths of parchment paper, and trim each to fit the bottom of an 8- inch square baking pan. Press the first sheet into the bottom and up the sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, running it perpendicular to the first sheet. Lightly butter or spray the exposed parts of parchment. Set the pan aside.
- Make the crust. Blend the flour, sugar, and salt together in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is powdery, but if firmly pinched, will hold together. Turn the dough crumbs into the prepared baking pan and press the dough evenly across the bottom and about ½ inch up the sides. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Should any parts bubble up, gently prick them again with a fork. Leave the oven on.
- Cut your lemon into thin rings and discard any seeds. Toss the lemon rounds in the bowl of your food processor, add the sugar, and run the machine until the lemon is thoroughly puréed, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and again run the machine until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed. Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt and pulse the machine in short bursts until the mixture is evenly combined.
- Pour the lemon mixture over the crust and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is set, slightly jiggly and a bit golden on top.
- Let the pan cool completely on rack or in the fridge. Gently cut around the outside of the parchment paper to make sure no sides have stuck, then gently use the parchment lift the bars onto a cutting board and cut into squares.
Before using your lemon, you have to do a test to make sure the white part of the skin isn't too thick. (If so the bars may be too bitter. )
Cut your lemon in half- is the white part of the skin especially thick?
If the widest part of the white is ¼ inch thick or less, your lemon is good to go. If any part of it is thicker than ¼ inch, however, remove the skin from half the lemon- a little less skin will help to even out the flavor!
Recipe slightly adapted from: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook