Creamy Lemon Bars
There are angels among us, I’m sure of it. They might not be beings from heaven, but they do make our lives much much better. I have a “lemon angel”. She gave me a Wilson lemon tree of my very own! I’ve always wanted a lemon tree, but somehow never got around to getting one (if I’m honest with myself, I think I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the thought of growing citrus in my windowsill…it seems like it should be difficult, doesn’t it?). But now that I have my lemon tree from my lemon angel, I’m on Cloud 9!
Have you ever buried your nose in a lemon blossom? It has the most ethereal scent, even better than jasmine. On those oddball warm days we had last week, I had the window where this lemon tree is sitting open a crack while I studied at my desk. I immediately became enveloped in the fragrance that dance along the warm breeze. I will forever be supremely jealous of anyone who lives near a citrus orchard!
Along with the lemon tree came one lone ripe lemon that I determined should definitely go towards an appropriate “thank you” for my lemon angel. Creamy Dreamy Lemon Bars fit the bill nicely, and I had all the ingredients on hand. Can I tell you that I giggled aloud at the realization that I didn’t have to run out to buy a lemon? And I’ve now discovered that the great thing about a lemon fully ripened on the tree is that it contains a great deal more juice than the hard pale ones I’m used to picking up at the grocery store. It also probably has a higher content of aromatic oils in its rind since the zest this time was extremely fragrant.
I got another dozen beautiful brown eggs from a local producer when I visited my parents last weekend. These eggs have the most beautiful yellow yolks! That pictures is not doctored; they really are that deep golden color. No doubt they lent some of that rich hue to the lemony custard.
While this recipe is traditionally served as a bar cookie, it was very easy to use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make them even more endearing (as if their rich flavor and crumbly crust aren’t enough). I’m thinking besides serving as a token of appreciation, these lemony hearts would be a wonderful sweet for serving at a bridal shower in the spring.
½ C. confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ C. unbleached flour
Pinch of salt
¼ t. freshly ground nutmeg
¾ C. butter, cold and cubed
1 ½ C. granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
½ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ C. heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Sift the confectioners’ sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg together into a medium bowl. Using your hands, rub in the cubed butter until mixture resembles a coarse crumb.
Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or just until the edges begin to turn golden. Meanwhile, make the lemon custard by beating together the eggs and sugar briskly for a minute. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix well.
Lightly whip the cream until it gains volume but doesn’t yet quite form peaks. Gently fold into the egg mixture and pour over the warm crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 40 minutes until the top is golden and the custard is set.
Cool completely before cutting into bars. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Tasty with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.