Monday, April 27, 2009

Cookie Carnival- Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

This month's Cookie Carnival cookie is Toasted Almond Lemon Bars, from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. I just noticed a baking group-Sweet Melissa Sundays- that is baking it's way through this cookbook. I own this cookbook and it has some really great recipes.
Back to the Cookie Carnival. This month we had our first ever guest host- Holly of Phemomenon. She chose these lemon bars and I know quite a few people who are glad that she did.
Lemon Bars were something I remember having as a kid and nothing is as good as a homemade lemon bar. (Meaning the ones from the box just don't cut it for me).
I do have to admit that I gasped when I saw that the crust called for 2 1/2 sticks of butter. And that the recipe was only supposed to yield 12 squares. I wouldn't allow myself to do the math. I don't know why it was so shocking- it just seemed like a ton of butter.
Luckily for me and my hips, I made these for a family members' work meeting and probably cut them into 36 squares, at least.
I used sliced almonds, which I toasted and that gave the crust little flecks of almond that I thought was nice.
The filling was nice and tart. It had quite a zing to it. The almond extract added something extra too, which was very delightful. I did have to try a tiny piece, as did my little helpers and everyone thought they were really good.
The plate came back from the meeting empty, so I am pretty sure everyone enjoyed them.
These are just how a lemon bar should be- thick crust, tart filling and a heavy sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Toasted Almond Lemon Bars
From The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
Makes 1 dozen bars
"Everyone loves lemon bars. I make mine extra special by adding toasted almonds to the shortbread crust."
For the Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 Tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
For the Lemon Filling:
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 7 lemons)
1/4 cup confectioners' 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.
Before You Start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 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 1/2 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:
1. 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.
2. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1 1/4 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 until smooth. Add the lemon juice, and whisk to combine.
To Complete the Bars:
1. Pour the lemon filling into the prepared crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm and lightly golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
2. 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 1/2 - inch bars. Remove from the pan and, using a small sifter, dust with the confectioners' sugar.

Up next- TWD- Chocolate Cream Tart


Marie Rayner said...

My favourite bars are Lemon Bars Mary Ann. I have this book. I clearly need to give it a second look!

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

I love lemon bars but adding the toasted almonds just puts them way over the top!

Risa said...

I love lemon bars and these look amazing. I am definitely not going to think about the quantity of butter if I make them :)

Eliana said...

These lemon bars look so yummy. And you're right - The Sweet Melissa Baking Book does have some great recipes in it.

Sara said...

Mmmmm, these lemon bars look great! Toast almonds too?! YUM!

Barbara Bakes said...

I haven't had a good lemon bar in a long time - these look delicious!

Netts Nook said...

Love the almonds in the crust that is a nice change. Boy they look out of this world.

Anonymous said...

Love, love lemon bars. These look great and I can't wait to get to this recipe.

Unknown said...

Love lemon bars. I am so loving this warm weather because it's the perfect time to make these treats!

Kelley said...

Oh my goodness! Those sound divine!

Kerstin said...

They sound so delicious and perfect for spring!

Steph said...

I've never had lemons bars and actually used to think of it as not too fattening.. until I found out about all the butter in the filling (in other recipes I've seen). It seems like there is a lot of butter in that crust, but there's also a lot of flour too. I don't think it beats Dorie's caramel crunch bars or coconut butter thins in the butter department!

Jacque said...

I was also taken aback at how much butter these had. Good call sending them off to a meeting. I took mine to a cub scout meeting, thank goodness.

Yours look just perfect. Nice pictures too!