kruizing with kikukat

Monday, January 6, 2014

Food Processor Dessert: Lemon Bars

Happy New Year!!!  I'm back at work today, but students don't return until Wednesday.  I'm not excited about having to work, but I am excited about beginning the second half of the school year.  In 5 months, the bleeding will end (and new gaping wounds will open).

Before I continue, I'd like to wish a belated happy birthday to my friend Maggie in NY.  Would've loved to join in the celebration at the Cheesecake Factory and check out the 80s band.

I'm feeling rather well-rested, having dodged the bullet of hosting an endless new year gathering.  All I was asked to bring was some kind of namasu and a dessert to CAE's house.  The namasu was easy. . .cucumber & chicken namasu.  The dessert was a no-brainer. . .lemon cake, fruit cake, and confetti jello.  I was going to make lemon bars, my "signature" dessert, but I made lemonade with the last of the lemon juice.  My favorite uncle has a huge dose of a citrus beverage daily to combat the formation of kidney stones.  And really, I think I OD'd on lemon bars anyway.

I've been making lemon bars for nearly two decades, and for most of that time, my lemon bars were just another item on the dessert table.  My late uncle would ask me to bring it as a dessert to family parties.  But a year or two ago, things changed.  After bringing the bars to an office potluck, my buddy SF asked me to make some for the dessert table for her daughter's wedding.  I once made a 40-piece tray of it for a "feed-the-hungry" service project for D1 (she got yelled at by her club advisor---"thats not the kind of dessert for a soup kitchen!").  This past summer, I brought it to a gathering at the HHS pool when the students from Sumoto came for a visit.  The club advisor and some of the kids went crazy.  D1 said that she saw a student eat 5.  That was the first time D1 and D2 had ever eaten lemon bars (yup, I know what you're thinking).  D1 wanted to know what all the fuss was about, and D2 decided to get in on some of the action too.  Since this school year began in August, D1 has come home and told me on more than one occasion:  "___ asked if you could make lemon bars" and "I want to give lemon bars to ___".

About a month ago, one of my bosses told me, "My mom said you're known for your lemon bars."  This was after he thanked me for the tray of lemon bars I brought to the office and the separate tray D1 gave his wife.  That same boss called me during the vacation and asked me for the recipe (claims his wife lost the paper copy I gave).  Of course I obliged. . .I like the guy!  D1's friend brought me a plastic bag filled with lemons from her tree so "you can make lemon bars or something".  Unbeknownst to me, she told her club advisor "D1's mom makes the best lemon bars."  This resulted in the club advisor asking me if he could independently verify this claim.  All this lemon attention just has me laughing.

And I don't mind.  I have the recipe memorized.  I have multiple pans (exactly the same) which allow me to make several pans at a time (no point in making just 1 pan).  Experience has taught me a lot about making and serving lemon bars. 

Kitchen mess is a huge issue for me.  I hate to look at a pile of dirty dishes.  It pisses me off and irritates me when dishes sit unwashed, and that is why I use the food processor to make lemon bars.  The crust and filling can be mixed in the food processor bowl, and the washing is done when the filling is need to wash and dry the bowl between crust and filling.   And if you line the baking pans with foil, the pans will stay clean.  Another huge plus to lining the pan with foil---you will have a nice apron when you dust the bars with powdered sugar.

If I make lemon bars for myself, my preferred shape is the "finger", where the pan is cut into 3 long pieces, then each piece is cut into 10-12 pieces.  But if I am making the bars for an event or to give away, I will cut them into squares.  A 9 x 13-inch pan will yield 35 (5 x 7) squares which are perfect for the medium size baking cups.

I am now staring down the barrel at the 2nd half of the school year.  Over vacation, it occurred to me that perhaps I'm often asked to make lemon bars because people think that's the only thing I can make!  I may need to think of a game changer soon.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crust:  2 c flour
            2 tbsp sugar
            2 tbsp powdered sugar
            3/4 c butter

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until tiny crumbs form.  Press into a 9 x 13" pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Make filling while crust is baking.

Filling:  2 c sugar
              1/2 c flour
              1/4 tsp salt
              1/4 tsp vanilla
              1 tsp baking powder
              4 eggs
              5 tbsp lemon juice (may use up to 8 tbsp if you like it tart; adjust baking time accordingly)

Combine all filling ingredients in the same food processor bowl used for crust.  Process until smooth.  Pour over hot crust and bake 25 minutes.  Cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Cut into desired pieces.

One pan will make 35 squares or 30-36 "fingers".

Congratulations to LA & SN, who announced their engagement to the family on Monday evening.  We will definitely "save the date" (and buy SN a new shirt. . .gotta admit, the boy would look much better in purple & gold).  WOOF!!!
I overcame my frustration with knitting and have been going great guns.  I joined Ravelry and now have access to all sorts of patterns.  I am most delighted with the Noro Silk Garden Darkside Cowl and Beanie.  I started the cowl 3 times (dropped stitches).  The beanie was less annoying, although it is slightly too large for me.  I'm thinking this set will make a nice gift for someone.

Inspired by the Noro Silk Garden Beanie (and dissatisfied with a simple chunky hat pattern I'd been using), I developed my own beanie pattern to use with some chunky yarns, Feza Bogeta and Plymout Yarns Grandiosa.  I love the way the Feza Bogeta yarn worked out, but I'm sure the more economical Lion Brand yarns would work fine too.  Wal-Mart has them in all sorts of colors.  Click here for the printable beanie pattern, which is also available in free .pdf on the Ravelry site.

Note:  These are actually human hats, but I couldn't find a willing model.  Panda and Fat Dawggie had to sign a model release!

Panda in Feza Bogeta beanie
Fat Dawggie in Plymouth Grandiosa beanie