Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cookie Carnival: Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

This month, the Cookie Carnival bakers made Toasted Almond Lemon Bars from "The Sweet Melissa Baking Book" by Melissa Murphy. Holly from PheMOMenon was guest host, and you can look for a roundup of all of the bars on her site soon. Thanks, Holly, for a great pick.

(Of course, I forgot the sprinkling of powdered sugar on top. I always forget that part.)

I really enjoyed these lemon bars, they were tangy, lemony, and addictive. The toasted almond base was perfect with the lemon. I thought that toasting the almonds added an extra dimension of flavor. If you try these, definitely don't skip this step.

OK, over and out until next month :)

P.S. I apologize for the short posts lately, I'm having a hard time keeping up these days. I blame the warm weather!

Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

From The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy

Makes 1 dozen bars

"Everyone loves lemon bars. I make mine extra special by adding toasted almonds to the shortbread crust."

For the Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 Tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

For the Lemon Filling:
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 7 lemons)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

To Toast the Almonds:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden and you can smell them. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Before You Start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 - inch pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Make a parchment "sling" by cutting two pieces of parchment paper, measuring 16 1/2 inches long by 12 inches wide (you can also use aluminum foil). Place one piece across the length, and the other across the width of the pan, with the excess hanging over the edges. You will use this sling later to lift the finished bar from the pan. Spray the sling with the cooking spray.

To Make the Crust:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, almonds, and salt to combine. Add the cold butter in pieces and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball.

2. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the sides. (This crust, once it is baked, needs to act as a liner in which to pour the liquidy lemon filling. So be sure to do a good job of pressing the dough up the sides - no cracks!). Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights ( you can use dried beans or uncooked rice as pie weights as well). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Carefully remove the pie weights and the liner and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the whole crust is golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

To Make the Filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the almond extract and flour, and whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice, and whisk to combine.

To Complete the Bars:
1. Pour the lemon filling into the prepared crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm and lightly golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

2. When cool use the parchment sling to lift the entire bar from the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice into twelve 3 x 3 1/2 - inch bars. Remove from the pan and, using a small sifter, dust with the confectioners' sugar.

The bars keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.


PheMom said...

Yum! Your bars, sugared or not, look great! I am so glad that you loved them. They certainly were different and delicious!

Carly said...

I gave you an award! Check it out at my blog Thanks for your lovely blog!

Snooky doodle said...

these look yummy :) I made them too . i like almonds and lemon :)

Heather said...

Sounds delish!

Mary Ann said...

They look great! I thought all the components really complimented each other too.

Grace said...

i love the separated layers--they make for a beautiful bar and make the lack of powdered sugar completely unimportant. :)

Mermaid Sweets said...

Your bars look fantastic. I can't wait to make them with the SMS baking group.

vibi said...

Those look great... not the fisrt time I see them around, but yours are some of the most enticing yet so, better get my lemons ready!!!

Gotta try them!

Anonymous said...

I love lemon bars and toasted almond sounds delicious. Your bars look wonderful.

Juliana said...

Yummie! Lemon bar with almond...I absolutely love lemon bars. The pictures look so delicious.

Bunny said...

These are perfect, how do you cut things so perfectly??

Dragon said...

These bars look fantastic! I love the addition of almonds.

Pamela said...

They look great! I skipped this month and made a cooking light version of lemon bars instead. I am sure that the almonds were really good in the base, too.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Lemon bars are one of the freshest treats! Yours look beautiful. I can almost taste them. Looks like a great recipe!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Those look sinful! I love lemon.

Maria said...

I love bar treats! They look very enjoyable!

Elyse said...

Mmm, I love lemon bars. I can't wait to try out this recipe. I hope that the SMS group makes them soon, so I have a good excuse to make them. Great job!