'Tis the season for lemons. Late winter offers up bushels of citrus, which transform into light and lovely desserts like these lemon bars. Whether you are knee-deep in snow or lucky enough to live where lemons grow on trees, these lemon bars will bring a ray of sunshine to your plate.
The key to a good lemon bar, in my book, is the filling. It must be intensely lemony, packing a wallop of tartness with just enough sugar, but not so sweet that it's cloying. Picture a zingy, sweet and tart filling rippled with lemon zest, anchored to a buttery shortbread crust. The final touch is a smidge of sea salt, which keeps the sweetness in check and allows the puckery lemon to shine through. These bars are thoroughly addictive and guaranteed to brighten your day. One bar will never be enough.
Lemon Bars With Sea Salt
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: makes 32 (2-inch) square bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool, cut into cubes
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Sea salt flakes, such as Maldon (or plain sea salt)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, then line the pan with parchment and butter the parchment.
Combine the shortbread ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until the dough resembles coarse lumps and just begins to come together. Dump the dough into the prepared pan and, with your fingers, evenly press the dough to cover the bottom of the pan.
Bake the crust until it just begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; do not turn off the oven.
Whisk the filling ingredients together in a large bowl until blended, then evenly pour over the crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set but not coloring, about 25 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack.
Cut into bars. Dust with confectioners' sugar and lightly sprinkle with sea salt flakes before serving.
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