Last week was limes, this week it’s lemons! Glorious, yellow, tartly sweet, juicy, fragrant lemons.
Can you tell I haven’t had the luxury of tasting, using, or holding a lemon in my very own hand for a while? It’s true, over the course of 13 months living in Thailand, I have only seen lemons 3 times. This time, I splurged and bought one. Actually, I bought three. They’re pretty rare over here, and as far as I know, the Thai language doesn’t even have a word specifically for them – you simply use the word for “lime” (which they use prolifically in Thailand), then classify it by calling it big and yellow.
So, I suppose I ought to say I bought 3 big yellow limes. Weird.
Anyways, I’ve been bookmarking recipes over the past year (online) that call for lemons, eagerly awaiting the day that I would finally have some of my own. Funny thing is, after I bought them, I couldn’t bring myself to use them right away despite my excitement. For some reason I have this feeling like I need to keep them as long as possible, just because I can. Ha. Apparently, living overseas does funny things to your psyche.
Well, today, I finally got up the nerve to use one of my prized little fruits. I made lemon bars. From scratch. But these weren’t just any old lemon bars, because I just so happened to find some frozen strawberries (berries are another rarity/expensive luxury in this country) at a very good price a few weeks ago, and I swear I heard them calling me from the freezer. Could swirls of strawberry puree perhaps make these little bars even more enticing? The answer is yes.
So, here’s the basic recipe – plus the strawberry swirl. Enjoy!
First make the crust:
- 1 C cold butter
- 1/2 C powdered sugar
- 2 C flour
I just threw it all in my food processor and pulsed it until thoroughly combined. You could just as well cream the butter and sugar together by hand, then add the flour. Whatever floats your boat.
Press dough into a buttered 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes, until slightly golden – not brown.
While that’s baking… for the filling:
- 3 eggs
- 2 C sugar
- 8 T lemon juice (about 1 large fresh lemon)
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 4 T flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
Beat eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and zest together in a bowl. Then add flour & baking powder. Once thoroughly mixed, gently pour over your already baked crust.
Now, you can stop here and go ahead with baking your filled bars at 350F for about 20 minutes, until edges are slightly golden, but not brown…. or you can add the strawberry swirl.
- If you want the swirl, just puree a handful of strawberries – if frozen, thaw them first or you’ll get sorbet (which is equally delicious!) – with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon or two of sugar, depending on how sweet you want them to be. Gently drop little spoonfuls of strawberry puree throughout the lemon filling, then proceed with baking as directed.
As always, if you want to actually eat these in bar form, you will allow them to cool completely – or even refrigerate – before trying to cut, or else all you’ll get is a sticky (though delicious) mess. Sprinkle with a little bit of powdered sugar, and you are good to go! However, if you are both impatient (like me) and a fan of desserts in the molten category (lava cake, for example), just allow it too cool until edible and scoop into bowls. It’s like eating a melted lemon meringue pie. Mmmmmm!