You know what they say: when life gives you lemons, make lemon bars.
Oh wait, that’s not how the saying goes?
Well, make lemon bars anyway. Creamy, mouth-puckering, sweet, crumbly lemon bars. These bars boast a sunny custard on top of a buttery crust, and are sprinkled with the heavenly whiteness of confectioners sugar. It’s a great dessert to tote along with you to a barbecue because it tastes so summery.
I followed Martha Stewart’s recipe and only very slightly tweaked it.
Creamy Lemon Squares
for the crust:
1 stick cold, salted butter cut into pieces (plus more for buttering the baking pan)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
for the filling:
4 large egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk
juice of 3 lemons
zest of 1/2 lemon
about 1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar, for dusting
Make the crust first, which is essentially like making shortbread. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix until the dough clumps together. If you have an electric mixer, you can do this with the paddle attachment. But I don’t have a mixer, so I go old school and use my hands to crumble the butter into the flour mixture.
Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and butter it. Press the dough into the pan and make sure to press well (for a relatively even layer, I usually do this with a spoon). Prick all over with a fork and bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes.
Now make the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, condensed milk, lemon juice and zest until smooth. Pour over hot crust in pan, return to oven, and bake until filling is set, about 30 minutes. Cool completely. Then refrigerate until the filling is set, for at least 3 hours.
I loved how easy it was to make these. It’s also great that it has so few ingredients (I am all about easy-to-whip-up recipes lately) and that it uses condensed milk. With every lick and spoonfull of condensed milk, it’s like I’m being transported back to my childhood.
I made these last weekend for a friend’s pig roast and kept it chilled until people were ready to dig in. The filling is indeed very creamy so I’m not sure how well it would stand if it gets a little warmer than room temperature. But I’m sure it won’t be a problem licking sticky fingers if they’re covered in sweet lemon custard.
What’s your favorite summer baked good?