Ally

If you're anything like me you've probably been spending more time outside enjoying this wonderful spring-like weather than being in the kitchen. It's been so sunny and warm that I've busted out my summer dresses and sandals already. And it's not just me that seems to be exhilarated about the change in weather; Mother Nature seems to have kicked it into high gear and everything is a bloomin', like these daffodils in my courtyard. They shyly popped their little heads out last week. They're just so bright and cheery that they make me smile each time I walk by them. So to celebrate my smiley yellow daffodils, I've been making a ton of Meyer lemon bars. I found this great recipe by Ina Garten and they seem to be a hit with everyone who's had one so far. These bars sport a shortbread crust and the taste could be described as more of a "grown up" lemon bar than your typical sugary, gelatinous lemon bar.

Notes:

* I used Meyer lemons in this recipe instead of regular ones, which made the bars a bit sweeter and not so overwhelmingly tart.
* Definitely use a stand mixer with paddle attachment on this recipe. I read a lot of reviews of this recipe where people who mixed it by hand had crusts that fell apart, weren't mixed well or came out extremely crumbly.
* I didn't have any extra large eggs on hand. I used 6 large eggs instead and the recipe came out fine.




Lemon Bars

(adapted from Ina Garten's recipe in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

Ingredients

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:

6 extra-large eggs at room temperature

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (do not use the bottle stuff)

1 cup flour

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting  (optional)


Directions

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

- For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

- Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed.

- Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball.

- Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides.

- Chill.

- Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

- For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour.

- Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

- Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.
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