Here in sunny Southern California, we don’t exactly have seasons. In fact, we’ve just had one of the warmest Februarys on record. Abruptly followed up with a rather unexpected cold snap. For this native Cali girl it is downright F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G! Nevertheless, just as soon as we pass the mid-February mark, I immediately start daydreaming of springtime. Yep, the moment that Valentine’s Day is in the review mirror….hello, spring!! With the change of seasons quickly approaching, all I can think about is warm, sunshine filled days, leisurely outdoor dinners and sweets infused with bright and tangy flavors like these Meyer Lemon Bars.
Meyer lemons are unique in their sweet flavor and flowery fragrance. I have three hearty Meyer lemon trees in our orchard and the bulk of that fruit each year goes into batches of these delightful lemon squares. Meyer lemons are by nature super juicy and not as tart as your standard “grocery store” lemon. More common lemons, such as Eureka lemons, can be used in this recipe but you’ll really get more bang for your buck if you can get your hands on some Meyers. There really is nothing better than the flavor of clean, simple, bright organic Meyer lemons. Trust me.
Meyer lemon bars are best when the citrus curd sits on top of a thick, buttery crust. Made with high quality unsalted butter, and no shortage of it I might add, this crust melts in your mouth and forms a firm base for the more delicate lemon filling. Using the best ingredients you can muster up will compliment the simple, clean flavor of the Meyers and allows these bars to truly shine. The toughest part of making these bars is resisting the temptation to dig into them before they have had ample time to cool. Good things take time. Allow the bars to rest for several hours on the countertop before cutting into squares. If you are in a hurry to serve these up for dessert or your cravings cannot wait, pop the pan in the fridge after an hour and this will speed up the cooling time. Generously topping with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar is a must.
If you aren’t instantly transported to the crisp, clear, sun-shining days of springtime after sinking your sweet tooth in to these citrusy spiked bars then take a second nibble. After your lips purse into a little pucker from the tang of the lemons, the buttery shortbread crust will create the most perfectly balanced bite. This classic dessert is one that can be made again and again and will be eagerly devoured any time of year. I just happen to get a hankering for them just as winter is wrapping up it’s frigid temps and my Meyer lemon trees are showcasing their full and juicy fruit. If you don’t have a neighbor with a loaded Meyer tree that happens to hang over your side of the fence (hint, hint) then you absolutely can still make these soon-to-be-favorite Meyer Lemon Bars with store bought Eureka lemons. Just add a squeeze or two of orange juice to balance out the flavor.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 pound unsalted butter, chilled into ½ inch cubes
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 7 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
- grated zest and juice of 4 large Meyer lemons
- ¼ cup confectioner's sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Lightly grease a 17 by 12 inch baking pan and set aside
- Mix flour and confectioners sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend
- Add the cubed, cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles course meal and starts to stick together
- Remove flour and butter mixture and form into a ball
- Flatten the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared baking pan
- Bake 12-15 minutes, until light golden brown but not fully baked
- Remove from oven and set aside to cool
- Mix together granulated sugar, flour, and baking powder in a bowl and set aside
- Mix eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice in a separate bowl and whisk until smooth
- Sift the flour/sugar mixture into the egg mixture and stir until well blended
- Pour the filling on top of the cooled crust and return to oven to bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 or until the center is set
- Allow to cool for several hours before cutting into squares
- Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving
- Store bars tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to three days