Lemon Bars for Stephen

Lemon Bars

Who is Stephen???

He’s my darling little brother (and I have an older brother too…hi Andrew)!

When Andrew lived in Manhattan, I visited him whenever I could, looking for an excuse to visit my favorite city on earth.

Andrew never complained about me cramming myself into his tiny studio apartment, I think partially because I’m his sister (and we all put up with far more from family members, right?), but mostly because I would cook for him while I was there.

We’d go through my recipe index together, make a grocery list for all the things we wanted to make, and walk 10 blocks to the Upper West Side Whole Foods to shop.

Easy Lemon Bars

With his bachelor hodge podge collection of limited kitchen equipment, we would cook up a storm together. Potato Tart, Chicken Pot Pie, and Cheddar Scallion Cheese Biscuits…those were his favorites!

Lemon Curd Bars

My little brother Stephen on the other hand has always stayed in California, and I’ve been on the east coast for almost 7 years. Translation: we’ve never really gotten a chance to cook much together. But Stephen has made a request for a few recipes on Fifteen Spatulas…lemon bars and samosas!

Lemon bars are one of those classic American desserts that most everyone will gladly eat.

It’s the way your teeth glide through the tangy sweet creamy lemon curd. It seems so natural to close your eyes as you do it because the experience is sublime.

Lemon Bars

And it goes best with a crumbly, buttery shortbread as the base.

Lemon Shortbread Bars

Just remember the shortbread should look crumbly like the picture below (don’t overwork the mixture). The seemingly crumbly shortbread will press down into your 9×13 pan with no issues.

Lemon Bars with Shortbread

Bake the shortbread layer, then the lemon curd layer, and if you want…make it a spin on lemon meringue pie and pipe little meringue kisses on top!

Lemon Meringue Bars

But it’s totally optional, because the bars taste good with or without it. If you skip the meringue, dust the lemon bars with powdered sugar, and call it a day. Whether or not the meringue goes on top depends on how ambitious I’m feeling for the day =)

So here you go Stephen. This one is for you! Love you and miss you!!!

In the comments section: What are your family’s favorite recipes? Discuss!

Lemon Bars Recipe

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 lemons worth of lemon zest
  • 10 oz flour (2 cups)
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the Lemon Curd:

  • 6 extra large eggs
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 5 oz flour (1 cup)
  • ¼ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer (that’s what I used), beat the butter until it has spread around the bowl, about 15 seconds on medium speed. With the mixer still on medium, add the granulated sugar and cream the two together for 30 seconds. Add the lemon zest, flour, and salt, and mix until it has combined, but still looks crumbly. If you pinch a few crumbles together, they should hold well. Dump the crumbly shortbread into a 9×13 pan and press it firmly to make a smooth layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the shortbread is a light golden brown color, and in the meantime, make the lemon curd.
  3. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Then add the lemon juice, flour, and salt and whisk until smooth. Pour this mixture over the fully baked shortbread and bake for about 35-40 minutes. When the lemon bars are ready, the mixture will jiggle a little bit when you shake the pan, but it won’t be liquidy in the center. Let the lemon bars cool completely before serving. They’re ready to eat! Dust them with a little bit of powdered sugar if you’d like.
  4. If you want to add meringue to these bars, make an Italian meringue like this one, and pipe it into the lemon bars instead of the powdered sugar. Enjoy!