Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Friday, March 30, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Lemons Post Zesting!
Hey Family and Friends!

Forget the lemonade… how about lemon bars?  I know, not exactly “good” for you… but delicious.  I have to share this recipe with you!

Lemon Zest
One of my favorite clients who adored anything and everything lemon.  Since he traveled for business, he also ate in world-class restaurants.  I was honored to be the private chef for him and his wonderful family.  Through that experience, I created a plethora of recipes, cooked hundreds of meals and experimented every day in the kitchen with no budget.  I know… a chef’s dream.  Honestly, I had never experimented too much with lemon before working for the family.  After trial and error, I created lemon macaroons, lemon cakes, lemon bars, lemon pies, lemon sorbet (I know… starting to sound like Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company list…)  I have a few additions to a typical Lemon Bar which enhance the flavor and richness of citrus.  Subtle changes, yet noticeable on one’s palate:

Lemon Bars:     
Easy Recipe. 
Prep Time:  10 min 
Resting Time:  25-30 min 
Cook Time:  55 min – 60 min
Total Time:  1 hr 30-40 min

Lemon Curd
½ pound butter, softened
½ c. white granulated sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
6 eggs
3 c. white sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 lemons, juiced
Lemon curd 1-2 Tbsp
Lemon zest – 1 large lemon
Vanilla extract – Madagascar vanilla paste – about 1 – Tbsp*  (see note below)
Confectioner’s Sugar

Preheat oven 350 degrees F
Blend together softened butter, flour and ½ c. sugar, lemon curd, lemon zest and vanilla.  Note: most recipes do not call for the added lemon curd, lemon zest or vanilla.  The lemon curd provides a more tart flavor – subtle, but essential.  The zest allows for the lemon bar to “pop,” – a more robust and in-your-face lemon flavor.  The vanilla aids in brightening the entire citrus dish – blending the tart curd and acute zest into a natural pairing. 
Lemon Bars in between Parchment Paper
Gently press into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 inch pan.  This is your crust.  Cook for 15-20 minutes – until light golden brown.
In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup of flour. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.  Allow the crust to cool on a wire rack… when properly cooled, pour over the baked crust.
Bake for an additional 30-35 minutes in the preheated oven.  The filling will be “set” when ready. 
Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste
Allow to cool, then cut into squares/diamonds/any shape you so desire.  Can also use cookie cutters to cut shapes.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar.  One of my favorite decorations is gold leaf – the glistening gold pairs brilliantly with the bright golden hues of the lemon bar and white contrasting sugar.

*Note:  My favorite type of vanilla extract is actually Madagascar vanilla paste.  When I was working as a chef is Paris at Hotel de Crillon, we were fortunate to use fresh Vanilla Beans on a daily basis.  They were bursting with natural vanilla and made all of the difference in terms of taste.  Unfortunately In the US, our supply of vanilla beans is… well… it pales in comparison.  When you purchase most vanilla beans, they are already aged, shriveled and cost a small fortune for one or two miserly beans.  So disappointing.  But I have found that a good alternative in the US is Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste.  In terms of actual vanilla, it has the most potent, natural taste and maximum yield.  Can purchase at Sur La Table or Whole Foods.

Have a fantastic weekend, friends!

All my love from Dallas, y’all!

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