I first saw this recipe on The Kitchn a few months ago and I had a lot of fun creating a gluten free variation. I figured lemon bars would be the perfect dessert to have around on hot, summer days. Oh, and these were! Even as the weather has cooled down a bit these chilled bars are just as appetizing. It’s difficult to eat just one! The lemon curd is tangy, but sweet, and the almond shortbread is just out of this world. In fact, I love the almond shortbread so much that I increased the crust to lemon ratio.
Although these bars are so delicious, they do require some time, effort, and patience to prepare. There’s juicing and zesting the lemons, making the shortbread crust, baking the shortbread crust, making the lemon mixture, baking it all again, and finally the bars cool and sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. Phew – it’s even a lot to type out!
I had planned to make these bars yesterday, knowing I wanted to post about them today. I had nothing scheduled until the evening so I figured I could take my time and enjoy the baking process. My plan was foiled when I found out that the Apple Keynote was yesterday. Now, I am a huge Apple fanatic. I came from a family of Mac users, my husband is a Mac user. I think we have enough iDevices around to have one for each room of the house. The Apple Keynote is like Christmas for all of us. Except, instead of unwrapping a present we’re excitedly waiting to find out what new, cool electronics Apple has created for us now. We all gather around our respective computers, watch the live blogging of the event, texting back and fourth the entire time. So, at 12:03pm I set out to make these lemon bars, knowing that I needed to be at the computer for the Apple Keynote at 1:00pm. Could I actually complete all that baking in under an hour?
The answer was, almost, yes. By 12:30 the crust was mixed and baking and I was mixing up the ingredients for the lemon curd. The lemon curd finished cooking, the crust came out of the oven, I poured the lemon curd over the crust and popped it back in the oven for the final baking. It was exactly 1:00pm! I asked Siri to “set my timer for 10 minutes” and watched the Keynote until the timer went off. Then it was just a matter of sneaking to the kitchen for a second to pull the pan out of the oven. The rest of the process is just letting the lemon bars set and cool, which is all inactive.
So, yes, this is a somewhat complicated recipe and it might look daunting (if you are anything like me, that probably excites you). If you choose to invest the hour of your time and a spot in your refrigerator to these lemon bars you will not be disappointed. Its a little more work than whipping up a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies, but the result is truly decadent.
(makes about 18 small bars)
Recipe adapted from: The Kitchn
- 3/4c butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
- 3/4c powered sugar
- 1 3/4c almond meal
- 1c GF all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 1c granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbs butter
- 5 lemons
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Zest and juice the lemons, saving both the zest and the juice.
- Mix the powdered sugar and the 3/4c butter listed in the crust ingredients together in a stand mixer. I used the paddle attachment on medium speed.
- When the butter and sugar are creamed together (looks like frosting) scrape down the bowl and add in the remaining crust ingredients and mix until combined.
- Line a 7 x 11 inch glass baking dish with either parchment paper or silpat. The edges might hang over, but that is fine. Press the crust firmly into the pan, spreading it evenly with your hands.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the edges just start to brown.
- While the crust is in the oven, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in a medium sized saucepan.
- Stir in the reserved lemon juice and lemon zest (from step 2), and the salt.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Watch for the mixture to thicken, it will take under 10 minutes.
- Immediately, when the mixture thickens, remove the saucepan from the heat. Strain the mixture to remove any clumps. This takes me a few minutes, and some stirring to get the liquid to keep moving through the strainer.
- Return the strained lemon mixture to the burner (which will still be warm, but off at this point) and add in the butter, stirring until it melts.
- Pour the lemon curd over the finished crust, spreading it out if needed.
- Place the baking dish back in the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes; however long it takes for the edges of the lemon curd to set.
- Let the lemon bars cool, and then place them in the refrigerator for a few hours before cutting and serving.