I absolutely love a good lemon bar. Shortbread plus a gooey, zingy, creamy filling is something we can all gush over. This recipe is citrus versatile. By swapping a third of the lemon juice for fresh grapefruit, lime, or blood orange juice, you can customize these bars to become your own personal favorite!
For the pastry crust
- 2-1/2 cups (312 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons (8 grams) kosher salt
- 2-1/2 sticks (280 grams) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes (2-1/2 sticks is 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) cold water
For the lemon curd
- 1-1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- 9 large (162 grams) egg yolks
- 1-1/4 cups (300 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained (from about 9 large lemons), or any citrus juice
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (154 grams) unsalted butter (1/2 cup is 1 stick)
- 2 tablespoons (15 grams) fresh lemon zest (from about 4 large lemons)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) almond extract
- 3/4 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour
- Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Make the pastry crust
- In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, and salt and whisk until combined. Add the cold butter to the bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour until pea-size clumps form and the mixture becomes crumbly. Add the cold water, kneading by hand until a smooth dough forms. Cover the dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. The dough can be made a day ahead as well.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Remove the pastry crust from the refrigerator and press it into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set it aside to cool while you make the lemon curd.
Make the lemon curd
- In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together by hand until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat, add the lemon juice, butter, lemon zest, and almond extract. Stir constantly for 3 minutes to avoid any burning on the bottom of the pan. Add the sugar and egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and continue to cook, mixing constantly, for 1 minute more. Add the flour and whisk until fully incorporated. Cook, whisking constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the curd starts to thicken and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
- With a rubber spatula or an offset spatula, spread the lemon curd on top of the cooled tart shell. Chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator before cutting into 16 equal-size bars. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.