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Friday, June 19, 2009

Cookin' the Books: Lovely Lemon Bar Cookies

Lovely Lemon Bar Cookies (from Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke)

Preheat oven to 350. Rack in middle position.

2 c. flour (no need to sift)
1 c. cold butter (2 sticks; 1/2 lbs.)
1/2 c. powdered (confectioner's) sugar (no need to sift, unless it's got big lumps)

4 beaten eggs (just whip them up with a fork)
2 c. white (granulated) sugar
8 T. lemon juice (1/2 c.)
1 t. or so of zest (opt.) (zest is finely grated lemon peel)
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
4 T. flour (that's 1/4 c. - don't bother to sift)

Cut each stick of butter into 8 pieces. Zoop it up with the flour and the powdered sugar in a food processor until it looks like coarse cornmeal (just like the first step in making a piecrust). Spread it out in a greased 9 x 13" pan (that's a standard sheet cake pan) and pat it down with your hands.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Remove from oven (Don't turn off the oven!).

Mix eggs with white sugar. Add lemon juice (and zest, if you want to use it). Add salt and baking powder and mix. Then add flour and mix thoroughly (This will be runny - it's supposed to be).

Pour this mixture on top of the pan you just baked and stick it back in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees F. for another 30 to 35 minutes. Then remove from the oven and sprinkle on additional powdered sugar.

Let cool thoroughly and cut into brownie-sized bars.

Susan's note: All of the recipes in Fluke's books include a note from Hannah Swensen. I omitted it in this case as it contains spoilers.

My thoughts on the recipe: Well, I'm not the world's greatest baker, so it's not surprising that I had a few problems when making these. Nothing big, though. I don't have a food processor, so I tried blending up the crust ingredients in my 12-year-old blender. It wasn't exactly up to the task, so I ended up just mashing it together with a fork. A bit of a pain since the butter was cold, but not a big deal. I also ended up baking it about 5 minutes too long, which resulted in burnt edges. That was my fault - I didn't check it when I should have.

The good news is, the lemon bars still turned out wonderfully. They have a nice, flaky crust, and the filling has just the right consistency - not too runny, not too firm. I also liked that these aren't sickenly sweet or too sour. They're perfect. Just delish.

A funny - As I was sampling these lemon bars, I kept thinking they were a lot less sweet than the bars I usually make. Curious, I pulled out my recipe (which comes from an old LDS cookbook), and guess what? The recipes are exactly the same! I guess that means it's a winner.

Another note: This recipe was used with permission from Joanne Fluke (actually, from her husband "for Herself"). I copied it directly from the book, then returned the book to the library, so any errors are my own. Oh, and I have no idea why these are identified as "cookies" - they're definitely bars. Bar cookies, I guess? Who cares? They're yummy.

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