Lemon Bars

In April (yeah, I’m “slightly” behind), coworker Chiemi brought in a bunch of giant lemons from her lemon tree and gave me a bunch to make lemon bars.  I’ve never made lemon bars before.  I don’t even think I’ve ever HAD a lemon bar, so I was kind of clueless as to an “ideal” recipe to use.

I searched through a bunch of recipes listed in a google search.  They can range from using 2 Tbsp of lemon juice, to a whole cup of lemon juice, or using only the juice of one lemon to one whole ground up lemon.  I guess it all depends on how lemony you want your bars.

After looking through some recipes and asking some coworkers on what they look for in a lemon bar, I decided to go with the whole cup of lemon juice route.  I settled on Ina Garten’s Lemon Bar recipe.

They were a HIT!! I’m sure the home-grown lemons contribute to the success, but people LOVED the shortbread in this lemon bar!!!
Definitely will make again! ❤

Lemon Bars (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp coarse sea salt
For the fillings:
6 eggs, room temperature
2.5 cups white sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp lemon zest

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light.
3. Add flour and salt to the butter mixture and mix on low until incorporated.
4. Press dough evenly into a 9×13 baking pan.
5. Bake the crust in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack, and keep oven on.
6. While crust is cooling, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and flour.
7. Run mixture through a sieve to make sure there are no lumps of flour.
8. Stir in the lemon zest into the lemon and eggs mixture.
9. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is set.  Let cool to room temperature.
10. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Enjoy!

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies

The fiance’s dad was requesting a melt-in-your-mouth cookies (back in July…this post is way-late), so I decided to make shortbread.

I was very pleased with Dorie Greenspan’s Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (which I made as VIA-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies), so I decided to use another recipe of hers this time. These cookies weren’t as good as the other ones and were a little on the hard-side, but they were OK.


The original recipe was written with volume measurements, but I decided to weigh everything so that I know the recipe by weight. 🙂

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours)
Ingredients:
210g All-Purpose Flour
35g Cornstarch
1/4 tsp Salt
Pinch of Ground Nutmeg (original recipe calls for Ground Cloves, but I didn’t have any)
226g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
150g Light Brown Sugar
70g Finely Chopped Pecans (I ground mine in the food processor)
Directions:
1. Sift together flour, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg.
2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until very smooth, making sure not to over-beat.
3. Add dry ingredients and beat until flour is JUST incorporated.
4. Add pecans and mix by hand (to avoid over-beating).
5. Transfer dough into a gallon-size Ziploc bag.  Do not seal bag, and put the bag on a flat surface and roll the dough until it fills the bag to the zipper.  Make sure that the surface of both sides of the dough is even.  Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
6. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat oven to 350F.
7. Remove dough from refrigerator.  Carefully remove dough as a sheet from the bag.  Using a ruler as a guide, cut the dough into 49 1.5-inch squares.  Transfer the squares to two parchment-lined baking sheets and prick each square twice with a fork.
8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom, and front to back midway.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Bars

There was a charity bake sale at work last week, and since I LOVE to bake, but can’t find enough people to eat the food, I LOVE bake sales (and potlucks)!! I took advantage of this and one of the things that I made are these PB&J Shortbread Bars. I first saw this on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, and I thought they were perfect for a bake sale and perfect for testing out the pre-cut parchment paper from The Smart Baker (see post here).

To do the product testing in one go, I doubled this recipe and made a square version and a round version.  The square version, I cut into 16 2×2 squares, and the round version, I cut into 12 wedges.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Bars/Wedges (adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures)

Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened
1/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 Cups Flour
2/3 Cups Strawberry Preserves (or any other flavor preserves/jelly/jam)

Directions:
1. Line a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper (I used some Pre-Cut Parchment by The Smart Baker, it works like a charm!…;))
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and peanut butter.
3. Add sugar & salt and beat until light & fluffy.
4. Add vanilla extract and stir to combine.
5. Add flour and beat until incorporated.
6. Remove 1/3 of the dough, form into a disk, wrap it with plastic wrap, and freeze for one hour.
7. Press remaining dough into an even layer at the bottom of the springform pan, spread the preserves evenly in the center of the dough (leaving an edge like a pizza crust), refrigerate.

8. When you’ve reached one hour of freezing the initial disk, preheat oven to 350F, break frozen dough into pieces and sprinkle on top of the preserves.

9. Bake for 40 minutes (or so) until shortbread is golden brown.

10. Cool completely before cutting with a pizza wheel (or knife).
Enjoy!!!

VIA-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


Dear friend Minha moved to New York this past weekend, and we had dinner with her before she left. I wanted to give her a going away gift, so I did what I do best, I baked for her! 🙂

We were great friends in high school, then we drifted apart due to some high school drama, then I found her in my arms again. I admit, our friendship is one of the rougher ones I’ve had, but I still love her! So because of this drifting, I really had no idea what to make her, but I do remember that she liked coffee, so I decided to make this…and who doesn’t love shortbread ???…(I hope she does)…:P

This shortbread is amazing! The texture, the flavor, all of it. It’s got an abundance of coffee flavor, that also enhances the chocolate flavor, and the buttery shortbread goodness of it….mmmMMM. If I weren’t trying to lose weight, I might break and eat all of it!! Good thing Steven’s parents like it, so it was gobbled up before I broke. 😛

VIA-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours)
Ingredients:
1 Packet Starbucks VIA (I used Columbia Roast)
1 Tbsp Boiling Water
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Cups Semi-Sweet Mini-Chocolate Chips
Additional Powdered Sugar for dusting
Directions:
1. Dissolve Starbucks VIA in boiling water, set aside to cool.
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and powdered sugar until mixture is very smooth.
3. Beat in vanilla and espresso. Add flour and mix on low just until flour disappears
4. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
5. Place all of the cookie dough in a gallon-sized zipper bag. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out flat (leaving zipper open), filling all corners of the bag. Lift the plastic from the bag to release air bubbles and to remove creases/folds in the dough. When done, dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.

6. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
7. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
8. Remove dough from refrigerator. Using a knife, cut dough into 32 equal pieces (Dorie recommends 1.5″ squares, but I cut mine into rectangles).

9. Transfer dough onto cookie sheets and carefully prick each one couple times with a fork.
10. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom, and front to back halfway through.
11. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar while they are still hot.

Enjoy!!