I'm terrible with names. Whenever I meet someone for the first time, I have to ask twice (sometimes three times) for their names again. But besides names, I think my memory is pretty good. Counting on my good memory, I can say that I've never had a lemon bar. Could it be that a lemon-lover like myself has never tasted a lemon bar? Yup. It's true. I guess it's because lemon bars are not so common in Europe. You usually see a lemon tart or a lemon sorbet. Hmmmm, sorbet.
I ditched the 'ultimate lemon bars' to make these 'toasted almond lemon bars' instead. I love almonds and I love lemons, but I have never used the two together so I figured it would be worth trying. And I'm glad I did because they were wonderful. The sourness of the lemon filling tasted great with the nutty crust. They are quite heavy though, so I made little mini-sized bars. Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Toasted Almond Lemon Bars: The Sweet Melissa Baking Book - Melissa Murphy
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 20 tablespoons (2 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ¾ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (about 7 small lemons)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar, for sprinkling
To Toast the Almonds:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden and you can smell them. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
- Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13 - inch pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Make a parchment "sling" by cutting two pieces of parchment paper, measuring 16 ½ inches long by 12 inches wide (you can also use aluminum foil). Place one piece across the length, and the other across the width of the pan, with the excess hanging over the edges. You will use this sling later to lift the finished bar from the pan. Spray the sling with the cooking spray.
To Make the Crust: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, almonds, and salt to combine. Add the cold butter in pieces and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball.
- Turn the dough out into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1 ¼ inches up the sides. (This crust, once it is baked, needs to act as a liner in which to pour the liquidy lemon filling. So be sure to do a good job of pressing the dough up the sides - no cracks!). Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights (you can use dried beans or uncooked rice as pie weights as well). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Carefully remove the pie weights and the liner and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the whole crust is golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
To Make the Filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the almond extract and flour, and whisk just until smooth. (Any longer and your filling will have a rubbery film.) Add the lemon juice, and whisk to just until combined.
To Complete the Bars: Pour the lemon filling into the prepared crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm and lightly golden (mine needed 40 minutes). Remove to a wire rack to cool.
- When cool use the parchment sling to lift the entire bar from the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice into twelve 3 x 3 ½ - inch bars. Remove from the pan and, using a small sifter, dust with the confectioners' sugar.