Merry Christmas Eve!
Well, here we are - the very last day of the Cookie Advent Calendar! This has been an amazing and fun project and I can't believe that I actually managed to pull it off! I want to thank all my wonderful Cookie Recipe contributors who took the time to share a recipe with me - I couldn't have done this without your help and support. You are all too kind and generous!
To wrap up the Cookie Advent Calendar, I'm re-posting the recipe for my lemon shortbread bars. The reason for this is because lemon shortbread bars have a special place in my heart around Christmastime.
You see, every year since I was a young child, my parents' neighbour, Betsy, would bake a stunning variety of cookies and gift us with a cookie tray. Her assortment of treats ranged from shortbreads to pecan balls to fruitcake bites and we each had our favourites. Everything she baked was delicious, but my absolute favourite were her small lemon squares. I love Betsy's lemon squares.
For the past several years, I've been trying to replicate her lemon squares and this year, I've finally managed to do it! I love these lemon shortbread bars and am so happy to finally have a recipe of my own that I love as much as Betsy's.
Needless to say, all of us were waiting with baited breath today for the annual delivery of Betsy's cookie tray and she didn't disappoint! I managed to take a photo of the tray before everyone dived in. :)
lemon shortbread bars
source: slightly adapted from finecooking.com
for the crust:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (for the pan)
7 ounces (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
9.5 ounces (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
for the topping:
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
1 tablespoon packed, finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F and place a rack into the middle position.
Line a 13 x 9 inch metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge (for easy removal).
Lightly coat the sides of the foil (but not the bottom) with melted butter to prevent the lemon topping from sticking.
In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, sugar and salt. Gently stir in the flour to make a stiff dough.
Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
Place the pan into the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up the dough. Once the dough is firm, place into the pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden and set.
To make the topping: in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, flour and salt until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest.
Once the crust is ready, remove from the oven and pour the lemon topping over the hot crust. Return the pan to the oven and increase the heat to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the topping is set in the center (it should no longer wiggle when the pan is moved) and the edges are golden.
Set the pan on a metal rack to cool until the crust is completely firm, at least 1 hour.
When the bottom of the pan is cool, carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer them to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars by sliding a spatula between them.
Sift the icing sugar over the lemon topping.
Cut the bars into 2-inch squares (I prefer my bars smaller and more bit-sized, so I cut them into 1 1/2-inch squares).
yields: approximately 30 bars (depending on how large you cut the bars)