Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lemon Bars

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I was on the search for a good lemon bar recipe for a while...all came up short. Most had too little crust, or not enough lemon filling, or waaaay too much sugar! Even the amount I use in this recipe is the most that I've ever used! BUT that's the price you pay when you're dealing with desserts that require fresh lemon juice; hashtag, sorry-but-not-sorry!

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE CRUST:

2 sticks (1 cup) of softened, unsalted butter

1/3 cup of sugar

2 cups of all purpose flour

the zest from 2 lemons

1/4 tsp of salt

FOR THE LEMON FILLING:


6 LARGE eggs

2 cups MINUS 2 Tablespoons of caster sugar

3/4 cup of sifted all purpose flour

1/4 tsp of salt

3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:

powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 350 DEGREES F.

1. Place your butter into a large mixing bowl and beat it until it has dispersed all over the bowl, about 20-30 seconds. Add in your granulated sugar and beat for 30 seconds more. Add the flour, salt, and lemon zest and mix until combined and crumbly. Pour your shortbread mixture into a 13x9 inch glass pan and firmly press the mixture down, making a nice even layer. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the edges have turned slightly golden brown. When there's about 10 minutes left, gather all of the ingredients for the lemon filling.

2. Into a large mixing bowl, whisk together your eggs, caster sugar, sifted all purpose flour, and salt. Finally, add in your fresh lemon juice and whisk until smooth.

3. Pour your lemon filling onto the hot crust, LOWER THE OVEN TEMP TO 325 DEGREES F. and bake for about 20 minutes, or until there's a slight jiggle in the middle of your pan when you wiggle it.

4. Remove the pan from the oven, allow it to cool to room temp. and then place a piece of saran wrap over it. Refrigerate until lemon bars have fully set, about 3 hours, or even better, overnight!

5. Remove lemon bars from the fridge, and allow them to come to room temp before dusting with powdered sugar. Cut into squares and serve immediately!

NOTES:

-Make these ahead! Place lemon bars into the freezer after you're done baking and pull them out whenever you want some! Make sure you allow it to come to room temp before dusting with powdered sugar.

-You may use any 13x9 inch pan, but I love the results the glass pan gives me.

-Dip your knife into some hot water before cutting into your lemon bars to get those perfect squares!

-I usually get 3/4 cup of lemon juice from the larger lemons. If you use Meyer lemons, they are less acidic and require less sugar. If you use the tiny lemons, those are REALLY acidic, and I'd recommend using the full 2 cups of sugar.

-To make caster sugar, just pulse granulated sugar in a food processor until smooth.

-Different pans yield different cooking times, so I'd recommend checking on your lemon bars after 15 minutes.

-Make sure your crust is fully baked before adding in your filling.

Cheese and Bacon Scones

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If you are a lover of scones, then my recipe is a must-try! Most people love sweet scones filled with jam (recipe for that one is coming up! :)), but if you are looking for a change, or have never tried a savory, moist, and cheesy scone, then this recipe will be a game-changer for you!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of all purpose flour (I recommend the brand King Arthur)

1/4 tsp of salt

2 tsp of sugar

2 1/2 tsp of baking powder (I recommend the brand Rumford; it's aluminum-free)

1/2 tsp of ground mustard powder

1 Tablespoon of dried onion

6 Tablespoons of cubed, softened unsalted butter

4 ounces of shredded Asiago cheese

4 ounces of shredded extra sharp cheddar

1/3 cup of bacon bits

1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream

FOR EGG WASH:

1 egg plus 1 Tablespoon of water lightly beaten

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Add the first 6 ingredients into your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Turn the mixer to "stir" and mix until all combined. Turn mixer off and add in your cubed butter. Turn mixer to speed "4" and mix until crumbly. Turn mixer off again and add in your shredded cheeses and bacon bits and mix just until combined or until all of the cheese and bacon bits are covered in flour. With the mixer on "stir" add in your heavy cream and mix just until the dough forms a ball. The dough should be wet but not be too sticky.

2. Place your dough onto a lightly floured surface, and quickly shape it into a ball. Divide the dough in half, and using your hands, flatten out each ball into a 1 inch thick disk. Cover each disc in saran warp and allow them to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 400 degrees F.

3. Remove your discs from the fridge and cut out your scones. Place them onto an un-greased baking sheet fitted with some parchment paper on top. Add a layer of egg wash to each scone. Bake for 15-17 minutes for larger scones and 12-15 for smaller ones (I cut out 12 larger scones and they take about 17 minutes in my oven). You'll know when they're done when they become golden brown on top and are slightly golden brown on the bottom. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before eating.

NOTES FOR THE BEST SCONES:

-If using real bacon, cook bacon and them crumble it up to make 3/4 cup. If using diced ham, use 3/4 cup as well.

-Use good baking powder with no aluminum in it.

-Use good flour.

-Don't overwork the dough.

-Use heavy cream instead of buttermilk.

-Use silpat vs. parchment paper (it rises better and cooks more evenly).

-Oven times vary; the colder the dough, the longer it'll take to bake.

-May mix by hand using pastry cutter or even a food processor (be careful not to over-mix when using a food processor).

-Use extra sharp cheeses for optimum cheesy flavor. :)

-Great make-ahead recipe; dough can sit in the fridge for up to three days or may be frozen for later use.

-Do a double egg wash if you have time. Wait 15 minutes after the first coating, then add another coating of egg wash; it makes the tops nice and golden brown and gives the scones a nice crunch!

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