There are certain things in life that I really want to like. Avocados, for example, or Wuthering Heights. People consider it weird that I like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte but hate Emily, and that I like making guacamole but don’t like eating it.
Lemons are high up on the list. They’re yellow and sunny, and brighten things up wonderfully, both in savory and in sweet dishes. I really should like them. But while I like lemon juice in my hummus and lemon zest in my desserts, I’m not a fan of too-lemony things. Tarte au citron? No thank you. Lemon-roasted chicken? I’ll pass.
Why? Well, they’re sour. (Duh.) I hate sour things. They make my teeth hurt and my face pucker and my eyes water in pain. It’s not a pretty look, and I avoid it at all costs. Which is why I thought it was odd that one morning I woke up craving lemon bars. Specifically, Meyer lemon bars. Stat.
I’ve only had a lemon bar once in my life. I took one bite, immediately felt a searing ache in my teeth and trashed the rest. But I’ve been told (by the Amateur Gourmet) that Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, which convinced me that my craving might actually be worth satisfying. And since it coincided perfectly with the Meyer lemon season, I deemed it fate and got out the butter and sugar.
If you’re looking for a treat to tide you over until spring stops being a tease and actually seals the deal, look no further. These Meyer lemon bars are little pieces of sunshine. They’re sharp without being bitingly sour, candied without being cloyingly sweet. Go, buy up the rest of the Meyer lemons and make these tonight. They’ll make your week so much better.
I got this recipe from Barefoot Contessa, but after Googling around, I realized that her ratio of lemon to shortbread would be a little too much for a lemon novice like myself. Smitten Kitchen used a 1:1 ratio for her lemon bars (also based off of Barefoot) that worked better for me. Also, these are definitely better the second or third day, so they’re perfect for making ahead.
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:
- zest of 5 Meyer lemons (the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of zest, but I zested all of my lemons. I highly recommend this)
- 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
- 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cup flour, sifted
- powdered sugar for dusting
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Combine the flour and salt, and mix into the butter mixture until it just comes together.
2) Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and gather it into a ball. Flatten the dough and press into a well-greased 9-x-13 baking pan, creating a 1/2-inch crust. Chill for 20 minutes.
3) Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, until very slightly browned. Let the crust cool.
4) Make the filling: zest the lemons and combine with the sugar using your fingertips, until the sugar becomes slightly clumpy and fragrant. Whisk the sugar mixture with the eggs, lemon juice and flour until smooth and shiny.
5) Pour the curd over the cooled crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool to room temperature before sifting the powdered sugar on top. Cut into squares and serve.