Ahhh meyer lemons, how I love thee. Lemons in general are one of my favorite cooking ingredients, but when it comes to desserts, meyer lemons are especially wonderful. If you've never had them before, they're far less tart than regular lemons, with a flavor that combines lemon + tangerine + almost a floral note. SO good, and perfect for desserts.
Anyway, back to these lemon bars. I adapted them from this awesome recipe (I loved that it only has 2 eggs in the filling, as opposed to 7-9 like some recipes!), and since I used meyer lemons instead of regular lemons, I was able to reduce the sugar a bit, too. The result is a bar that's a little tangy, a little sweet, and a little rich (from the cookie crust). They're so delish, and I hope you give them a try!
Meyer Lemon Bars
For the Crust:
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), very soft
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
For the Filling:
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup meyer lemon juice (about 2 juicy lemons)
- 2 Tbsp. half-and-half or cream
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla abstract
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. finely grated meyer lemon zest
- confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 inch pan with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray. Set aside. *Note: I'm not totally sure how necessary it is to line the pan with aluminum foil. It did keep the bars from sticking to the pan, but it was also sort of a pain to cut the bars with the foil lining in place. I think I'll try it without it next time.
For the crust, combine all crust ingredients in a large bowl, and stir with a spoon until a sandy, crumbly mixture forms. *Note: You can also do this in a food processor, but I tend to do simple things like this by hand, since it means no food processor clean-up! Also, if you're curious why cornstarch is added to the crust (like I was), it's because it keeps the crust soft and tender instead of hard, dry, or crumbly like some shortbread cookies/crusts. I had never heard of adding it before, but I found it to be true, since this crust has a really great texture, not dry or hard at all.
Transfer the crumbly mixture to the prepared pan, and using your fingertips, press crumbs down to form a flat, even layer. Prick the crust with a fork haphazardly in a bunch of places so that air can escape during baking. If air bubbles form while baking, prick them down, and return pan to oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until crust has just barely set - it shouldn't be golden or browned at all, since it will be baking with the filling again.
While crust is baking, make the filling. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, meyer lemon juice, half-and-half, and vanilla extract, and whisk until smooth. Add the flour, and whisk until lumps are gone. Add the meyer lemon zest, and whisk to combine.
Pour the mixture over the crust, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the top has just set, and isn't jiggly in the center. Some movement or looseness is okay, since it will continue to set a little while cooling, you just don't want it to be liquid-like or runny at all. Also, you can see it change color/consistency as it's cooking - it becomes more lemon-yellow colored & solid looking, as opposed to liquidy and somewhat transparent looking. You want the whole top to be consistently lemon-yellow and solid, but not browned.
Allow bars to cool to room temperature (this will take at least an hour, probably more). Cover pan and refrigerate for at least three hours, or overnight, before slicing and serving. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving (this is mostly for looks, not for any added sweetness, so I go light on this). Store extra bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. *Note: the recipe yields 9 large lemon bars, but I prefer cutting them into smaller bars, so it yields 16.
*Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks