lemon bars on “brown butter” shortbread

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For me, the holiday season is not complete without lemon bars.  Growing up, my mom made a variety of holiday desserts to give to friends and our teachers {yes, my sister and I were brown-nosing little nerds} in little tins, including Russian teacakes {see here}, chocolate crinkle cookies, thumbprint cookies and lemon bars.  All were delicious, but I think I always most directly equated lemon bars with the holidays – maybe because of how she dusted the tops with confectioners’ sugar in a way that reminded me of snow.

These particular lemon bars are from the Tartine Cookbook, which I am loving {for another excellent Tartine Cookbook recipe, see here}.  The name of these bars is a bit misleading in that the recipe does not require the browning of butter.  Rather, the recipe encourages you to cook the crust a bit longer than some, waiting for the butter crust to color a deep golden brown before pouring the lemon filling over {interestingly} while the crust is still hot.  The filling is delicious – the lemon flavor is intense, but not too tart, and the consistency perfect – beautifully voluptuous, almost like lemon curd.

Recipe continued after the jump…

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Recipe

Adapted slightly from the Tartine Cookbook

Crust

  • 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts {optional, I didn’t use}

Filling

  • 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. and 2 tablespoons lemon juice {I used 6 lemons}
  • Lemon zest from 1 small lemon
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

To make the crust, sift the confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the flour and stir to mix.  Add the butter and pine nuts {if using} and beat on low speed just until a smooth dough forms.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan {it should be about 1/4 inch thick}.  To help even out the crust, use the flat bottom of any type of cup, pressing down firmly {I didn’t do this, I just used my hands}.  Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake the crust for 20 minutes, then carefully remove parchment and pie weights/dried beans.  Put the pan back into the oven and bake until the crust colors evenly to a deep golden brown, for 5 to 15 more minutes.  Rotate the pan 180 degrees if the crust appears to be baking unevenly.

While the crust is baking, make the filling:  Sift the flour into a mixing bowl.  Add the sugar and whisk until blended.  Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to dissolve sugar.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and egg yolk with the salt.  Add the eggs to the lemon juice mixture and whisk until well mixed.

When the crust is ready, pull out the oven rack holding the crust and pour the filing directly into the hot pan.  {It is easiest to pour the custard into the pan if the pan is in the oven}.  If the crust has come out of the oven and cooled before you have finished making the filling, put it back in for a few minutes so that it is hot when the custard is poured into it.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and bake just until the center of the custard is no longer wobbly, 30 to 40 minutes.

Let cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and chill well before cutting.  If you like, dust the top of the bars with confectioners’ sugar.  Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 squares, or as desired.

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Thank you so much for reading!

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14 Responses to lemon bars on “brown butter” shortbread

  1. I love your delicious looking lemon bars. I like the tart and sweet combination almost even better than anything chocolate.

  2. LaurenG says:

    These look amazing, and the photos beautiful. Will there be some left over for Christmas??

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Haha thanks Bodes! I actually made them a few weeks back and took them into the office. They were gone in 60 seconds. Haha. Let’s make some on Sunday? Can’t wait to see you soon!

  3. daryouchka says:

    Wow! Beautiful photography. And anything containing lemon and shortbread is bound to be delicious.

  4. ohhhh boy do these look good…i just love lemon anything..so i must give these a try…lovely post..sarah

  5. Anne says:

    These look delicious! Must be nice to have a Mom that bakes while growing up. I doubt you and your sister were brown-nosing nerds. 😉 Giving baked goods away is so there’s less to eat in the house. More baked goods = fatness & rotting teeth. Your Mom had the right idea.

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Thanks Anne! Yes, my mother was wonderful in that way – always encouraging us to cook and bake. And even now I try to give away at least half of the baked goods I make so that they aren’t tempting me in the house, but certain dishes I find more difficult to part with! 🙂

  6. Karen says:

    Lovely photos. I’m a lemon lover as well and your lemon bars sound good. I think I would try adding the pine nuts for a little different taste.

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Thanks Karen – do let me know if you try this recipe with pine nuts – I was tempted to also because pine nuts are a welcome addition to nearly everything for me, but worried that the texture might be off. Let me know what you think! Hope you had a lovely holiday season!

  7. petit4chocolatier says:

    I love lemon bars! Yours look and sound exquisite and delicious!

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