Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ultimate Lemon Squares

Makes 24 to 36 bars

These lemon bars are agreeably sweet without being cloying. Adapted from "Cookies Unlimited," by Nick Malgieri (Harper Collins, 2000).

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for the baking dish

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for finishing

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

6 tablespoons lemon juice

Set an oven rack on the middle level and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and line it with oversized, buttered parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract and beat until light, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and baked through.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs just enough to break them up. Without overmixing, add in the sugar, then the lemon zest and juice. As soon as the base is baked, pour the lemon topping over it and return the baking dish to the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping is set and firm. Transfer to a rack to cool.

When completely cooled, remove by lifting the parchment paper or foil and transfer to a work surface. Cut into 2-inch squares. May be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Just before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar.

Per serving (based on 36): 126 calories, 1 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 37 mg cholesterol, 3 g saturated fat, 8 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Jill Grisco; e-mail questions

© 2005 The Washington Post Company