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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Elevating the Lemon Bar to New Heights...Let's Make it Lime!


Aren't they pretty? There's just something about limes. Don't get me wrong, lemons are nice, too. But limes always seemed more exotic to me--I have no idea why. Could it be that as a kid, my mom hardly ever used real lemons or limes around the house? We had...you know it!...the plastic lemon and lime that was full of juice. Occasionally, real lemons made an appearance, but the only place I saw limes was in the grocery store.

When I started cooking on my own, one of the first things I did was to start using the real things. My mom was a fantastic cook, but she took shortcuts, like a lot of people do. And if that's your thing, hey, that's perfectly fine with me. But once you taste what fresh squeezed juice and freshly grated zest can do for your recipes, the difference is amazing.

Lemon bars are one of my all time favorites. So is Beat This, by Ann Hodgman. And let's not forget Beat That, her follow up. I love these two books. Not only are there lots of great recipes, but Ann's writing style is hilarious. They should be read cover to cover, because her humor even shows up in the recipes themselves. Back to the bars--even though in her book they're called Lemon Squares, there's not one bit of lemon in them. The idea is to make them more tart and really showcase the citrus in them. So you use limes instead--along with the fresh squeezed juice, there's lime zest in the crust and in the filling.

I've made these a few times, and they never disappoint. Lots of lime filled goodness on a wonderful almond shortbread crust. There's almond paste in the crust, and it adds such nice flavor and interest to the bars. I could eat that almond paste right out of the tube, and I've got about 1/2 cup left, if anyone's got any recipe suggestions to save me from eating the rest of it as is. Oh, she suggests using citrus salt for the salt in the filling, for that extra "pucker-up" factor. I still can't find any. I did find a lime salt from Morton's, and used that. Someday I hope to actually find some of the stuff, lol.

Oh, one more thing! Six limes gave me exactly 1/2 cup of juice. And even though I didn't need the zest from six limes, I zested them all anyway. I keep the extra in the freezer for zest emergencies. Hey, don't laugh! It could happen. And when it does, you'll wish you had zest in your freezer, too. ;)


Lime Bars

  Crust
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 Tbs sugar
1-2 Tbs almond paste
2 tsp grated lime rind
1 pinch salt

Filling
1 cup sugar, stirred together with
4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
2 large eggs
1 Tbs grated lime rind
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp citrus salt (optional)
confectioners' sugar, for dusting the top


Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375° and butter an 8" square pan.
2. Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and process until the mix
just begins to form a ball.
3. Pat the mixture in the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, or pale golden.
4. Turn the oven down to 350°.
5. Wipe out the food processor with a paper towel and add all the filling
ingredients into the bowl.
6. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
7. Pour into the crust and bake for 20 minutes.
8. Cool, chill well.
9. Sprinkle with a light dusting of confectioner's sugar.
10. Cut into squares. Store in fridge.


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19 comments:

Deborah said...

LOVE that pile of zest!! I've never tried lime bars, although I did do an orange version once that was delicious.

farida said...

Elle, limes appear more exotic to me too:) I don't know why either:) I love your recipe for lime bars and the pictures are gorgeous!

Hillary said...

Those pictures are awesome...I need to buy a grater so I can grate my lemons and limes as beautifully!

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Lime bars! How creative, that must be really yummy! Your pictures are really pretty too : )

taste memory said...

yeah ditto on that pile of zest....pretty; makes me want to wear it or concoct lipgloss with it.

Lime bars look yum too~love your creative twist+zippo chango on recipes; header came out nice too!

Kevin said...

Nice photos! That top one looks like it is your header image. That pile of lime zest looks good. I really like both limes and lemons, though I have never had a lime bar. I will have to try them. Bookmarked.

Elle said...

Deborah--ooooh, orange! That sounds so good!

Farida--thanks so much!

Hillary--my microplane changed my zesting experiences! hehe.

Jessy--thanks! They are yummy!

Taste Memory--thanks for the nice comments! A lip gloss sounds great!

Kevin--thanks! It is the header. I had to do a lot of futzing to get it right. It's staying for a while, I don't want to mess with it again, lol.

Cindy. Lo. said...

Ha that lime peels look like scallion to me at the first sight.

Antonio Tahhan said...

yum!! these lime bars look scrumptious!!

canarygirl said...

Gorgeous as always, Elle...Gawd I want one of those bars! YUM! I need to find a microplane zester so I can have a bunch of zest in my freezer for those pesky zest emergencies. lol :)

giz said...

An interesting twist to lemon squares - I love limes - in everything. I also never ever thought of freezing zest - great tip. Sometimes you just use the juice so why not take and keep the zest - you'll use it for sure.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

Oohhh, I can feel the tinkle in my cheeks, reading this post.

Elle said...

Cindy--scallions? Really? hehe, that would make interesting bars, wouldn't it?

Antonio--thank you!

Cg, they *are* pesky, aren't they?

Giz--yes! I currently have orange zest in the freezer, too. And I used some in a quick bread--it totally brightened up the flavor!

Nina--they do make you pucker! But not as much as they would if I could track down that citrus salt. It's eluded me all these years. :)

Jessica said...

I'm going to have to make this for Lon, who loves stuff like key lime pie. I have to wait for after the wedding though....I should just stop reading dessert posts.

Elle said...

Jessica--my problem with food blogs? I always read when I'm hungry. And if I've already eaten, I trick myself into thinking I'm hungry! hehe!

RecipeGirl said...

I would prefer the lime over the lemon. YUM!

Zen Chef said...

Oh my! How did i miss these?
They look just perfect!
Cool, i needed a good recipe for lemon/lime bars. I'm bookmarking this one! See, that's instant Karma, you got chimichurri, i've got lime now! hehe

Elle said...

Recipegirl--the lime is a little more unexpected, I think.

Zen--Karma's good. :)

Laura said...

These look awesome. i prefer limes to lemons for savory cooking but frequently fall back to lemons when baking desserts. I'll have to give these a try. I recently started freezing zest and juice bc I was tired of both getting wasted when a recipe only called for one.

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