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Lemon Bars

I had several motivations for making this recipe. I hadn’t made lemon bars in a long time and had been wanting to try them again. I am usually all for chocolate desserts, but ever since I made the Lemon Tart for Tuesdays With Dorie, I have found lemon a bit more endearing. I also wanted to make something yellow for the “LiveSTRONG With a Taste of Yellow” event, which is hosted by Winos and Foodies. I think this is an important blogging event because it raises awareness of such an important issue.

It seems as if cancer is everywhere. Almost everyone has been touched by cancer in some way. If you have not had it, then you know someone who is going through it or has gone through it. I have not had it, but it seems as if cancer has touched me through so many other people.

My younger sister was diagnosed with leukemia when she was six months old. I was only two at the time, so I don’t remember much. I remember some of the hospital visits and going along with my parents to the doctors appointments. Thankfully, she survived. We were lucky that she was able to get treatment at the Medical College of Georgia, which is known for its pediatric oncology unit. She is 21 now and has had no problems since she was little. She will also be my Maid of Honor next month when I get married, and I am happy that she will be there with me.

My grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer about five or six years ago. They caught it early, and she was able to survive. My grandfather has prostate cancer about seven or eight years ago. Although he died in 2004, it was not from cancer. My mom’s cousin died from a long battle with lung cancer in 2003. She was diagnosed 11 years after she quit smoking. I remember how much this devastated my family. David’s grandmother died of breast cancer before he was born. Although he never knew her, we both know that she was a special lady because of the way people talk about her.

Currently I am involved in a project that deals with cancer. There is a little girl at my church who was diagnosed with leukemia at three months old and she is five now and the cancer has come back. There is a group of women at the church who get together every few weeks to knit for “Miriam’s Project.” It is great to see how a horrible thing such as cancer can bring everyone together like that. The experienced knitters have been teaching the younger generation how to knit and we are working on making scarves and hats for the cancer patients in the children’s hospital at the hospital in Greenville, SC. At five, Miriam is very much aware of what is going on. She is such an insightful and sweet child. She says that the attention she gets makes her uneasy. She also said that she doesn’t want this to be all about her and that she wants to share our work with the other children. So we are making the scarves and hats for her to share with her fellow patients at the hospital. I hope that she will have a success story like my sister.

In honor of Livestrong day, please remember those who have died of cancer or those who are fighting it now. Do what you can to prevent cancer. Take care of yourself and make sure you get screened for cancer regularly and take whatever preventative measures you can. Hopefully one day there will be a cure!

Now for the lemon bars :) These were delightful. The crust was crisp enough that it didn’t fall apart. I really liked the lemon filling. It had a nice, crisp lemon flavor. You could really taste the lemon and it wasn’t overly sweet. I would definitely make these again. This is my entry for the “LiveSTRONG With a Taste of Yellow” event to support LiveSTRONG day.


Perfect Lemon Bars

For the crust

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra to decorate finished bars

¼ cup cornstarch

¾ teaspoon table salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), at very cool room temperature, cut into

1-inch pieces, plus extra for greasing pan

Lemon filling

4 large eggs, beaten lightly

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons

2/3 cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained

1/3 cup whole milk

1/8 teaspoon table salt

For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and line with one sheet parchment or wax paper. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over it (see illustration 1, below).

Pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade. Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second bursts. (To do this by hand, mix flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Freeze butter and grate it on large holes of box grater into flour mixture. Toss butter pieces to coat. Rub pieces between your fingers for a minute, until flour turns pale yellow and coarse.) Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and, following illustration 2, press firmly with fingers into even, 1/4-inch layer over entire pan bottom and about 1/2-inch up sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

For the filling: Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt to blend well.

To finish the bars: Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling mixture to reblend; pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Following illustrations 3 and 4, below, transfer to cutting board, fold paper down, and cut into serving-size bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts, as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over bars, if desired.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated May 1998

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10 Responses

  1. I love to hear little Miriams perspective, that she wants everyone around her to be blessed as well. These lemon bars look delicious and are for a very good cause!

  2. I LOVE your lemon bars! It looks so life like that I could just lick it off my screen! My mouth is salivating just looking at them!

  3. Hi Erin, So good to hear about your sister. Your wedding day will be really special. Love the lemon bars.
    Thansk for supporting LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow.

  4. Moving post. Thank you for telling us about Miriam.

  5. You are right…cancer has changed everyone’s lives in some way. I am glad that your sister will be there with you on your wedding day! :)

  6. Lemon bars are my FAVORITE (non-cake) dessert :) Yours look delicious~!

  7. i love lemon bars! glad you were able to participate, i didn’t get the chance to participate in this event

  8. [...] suggestion, because he loves lemon desserts and says that I don’t make them enough.  I made lemon squares before, using a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.  It’s been so long since I made them that I [...]

  9. hi

    im a completely novice cook and have stuffed up so many recipes that it takes me weeks to find a recipe and even longer to make up my minde about wether i wanna try it or not…….your lemon bar recipe look s quite simple and yummy….so id really like to try it but as i’ve never had a go at making a tart or a pie of anykind i was looking forward to the illustrations that you mention in the recipe but am having trouble finding them…….can you please help…..maybe they’re right in front of me and im just mising em……thanku!

  10. Hi my TWD friend!
    I just wanted you to know that I added your Lemon Bars link to my article on the Providence Examiner. Hopefully, you’ll see lots of people coming to see how good they are! Let me know how you do? Best, Donna

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