I’m absolutely thrilled to have one of my fabulous nieces, Avery, and her friend Chelsey, as guest contributors to my blog! Both girls love to shake it up in the kitchen and have had more dinner parties than I have had which is really saying something – after all, they’re only 17 and I’m . . . well . . . I’m . . . older than dirt! Take it away girls!
NOTE: All the beautiful pictures are also theirs! Don’t they make your mouth pucker??!
For what seems like eons now, I’ve been hearing about Meyer lemons: from Food Network chefs talking them up to one cookbook author claiming they’re the only lemons she likes to use for their “delicate sweetness,” the Meyer lemon has long fascinated and eluded me. Every time I’d check my local grocery store’s produce section, I’d find only bright yellow, conventional lemons—perfectly fine in their own right, but not quite the mythical crossbreed of lemon and mandarin orange I was seeking.
Then, this past shopping trip, they materialized as I made a beeline for bananas, so eager to complete the shopping trip I almost missed them. But there they were, at long last: Meyer lemons! With no idea of what to make, I snatched up a bag, lest they disappear as randomly as they’d appeared, a mere mirage.
After presenting my findings to Avery, we searched around the Internet a bit to find an ideal recipe to use our dark yellow beauties. In the end, we happened on a Meyer lemon bar recipe on NPR’s website—unlikely, but ultimately delicious.
These bars had a sweetness to them that came, uniquely, from the lemons themselves instead of excess sugar. The crust was flakey and infused with sweet zest; the bar filling—a happy medium between custardy and curd-like consistencies—was decorated with large pieces of whole Meyer lemon. Initially, this note in the recipe shocked me—I tend to find citrus skin too in-your-face—but the pieces of lemon gave the bars character and a far more interesting texture than your typical bakesale treat. A pretty sprinkle of powered sugar, and our bars were gone within a day.
MEYER LEMON BARS
From NPR’s web site
Makes 12 or 16 bars
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 whole Meyer lemon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
Powdered sugar for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a food processor, pulse flour, powdered sugar, salt and zest until combined. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles sandy crumbs. Transfer to baking dish and press into an even layer with your fingertips. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.
Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.
To make the filling, wipe out food processor bowl. Trim off ends and cut the whole Meyer lemon into small chunks, removing the seeds. Add to processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Set aside.
Whisk together the sugar, flour and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the lemon juice.
Whisk the egg mixture into the sugar mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chopped whole lemon. Pour filling over the hot crust and return to oven. Bake 28 to 30 minutes, or until center is set but still gooey when poked with a toothpick. Cool completely.
Sift powdered sugar (if using – we say YES!) over the dish. Cut into 12 or 16 bars and serve.
Best eaten within 24 hours (no problem here!). Cover and store at room temperature.