Lemon Squares

S.Kenney 2010 Lemon Squares

Two things caught my interest this week.  Lemon Squares and Crystalized flowers.  Both were interesting and fun.  Nothing could keep me from swiping my finger after the lemon curd thickened.  The smell is heavenly.  In fact, this dessert is over the top rich and flavorful.

S. Kenney - 2011 Lemon Squares

Crystallizing the flowers is really quite simple.  Take one egg white (room temperature).  Wisk it until a little bit foamy.  Paint the egg white liquid carefully onto the petals of the violets. Sprinkle sugar on top until lightly coated.  Rest flowers at room temperature for 24 hours.

S.Kenney 2011

There is nothing (o.k., you know my love affair with the smell of brioche...) like the wonderful aroma of the lemon  juice, and then the bubbling curd, and then the aromatic squares baking in the oven.  

S.Kenney 2011 Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares:

I adapted this recipe from this lovely blog I just discovered:
Tracey's Culinary Adventures

1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 oz) confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened & cut into 1-inch pieces

7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 7/8 oz) sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (I needed about 3 lemons)
1/4 cup lemon zest (I needed 4-5 lemons to get enough zest)
pinch salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream  (I used half and half and it was PLENTY rich enough)

To make the crust: Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.  Line the pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the bars out after they've baked.  Spray the aluminum foil with cooking spray.

Add the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt to the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Add the butter and process to blend, about 8-10 seconds.  Pulse just a few more times, until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal.  Dump the mixture into the prepared baking pan and use the tips of your fingers to press it into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. (I used the top to my cooking spray pan as a tiny roller so I could get the crust smooth)  Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes.

While the crust is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 F.  Bake the crust for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  (Don't start the lemon curd until the crust is in the over....like I did...oops)

While the crust bakes, make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and eggs together until combined.  Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and fragrant (This was good tactile fun).  Add the sugar to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.  Finally, add the lemon juice and salt and whisk until all ingredients are blended.

Transfer the filling to a medium saucepan and add the butter.  Stirring continuously, cook over medium-low heat until the curd thickens slightly and registers 170 F on an instant-read thermometer.  Pour the curd through a strainer into a medium heatproof bowl (This removes the zest from getting into the filling).  Add the heavy cream and stir to combine.  Pour the filling over the warm crust (this is important - you don't want to let the crust cool before adding the filling).

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the filling is shiny and the center jiggles just slightly when shaken.  Remove the pan to a wire rack and cool completely.  Use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan and cut into squares.  Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. 

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