Few Southern Tea-tables are complete without a pretty platter or cakestand of Lemon Bars, and, as in most other phases of life below the M/D, there’s more than one camp: The tangy, translucent golden bars, redolent of juice and peel, which shine in the light of a Summer day like squares of sunshine. They seem to have a clarity and glow of their own, much like slices of lemon meringue pie.
Tangy Lemon Bars
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar (plus more for dusting)
2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pats
Finely-chopped macadamias (optional)
Sift, cut in, stir in nuts if desired, press into sprayed 9x13
Oven 350---20 minutes
While crust is baking:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, slightly beaten
3 Lemons: Finely grate zest from one lemon; squeeze it and two more
Sift sugar, flour, and baking powder. Add beaten eggs, juice & zest
Pour onto still-warm crust.
Bake 20—25 til firm
Cool, cut into bars, sift powdered sugar atop on rack over pan
Keep in fridge; Garnish with paper-thin quarter-slices of lemon
LEMON/CHEESE BARS, also known as Lemon Cheesecake Squares, a.k.a. Ooey Gooey bars.
They have a personality removed from the decorous neat squares of their kin---they are rich and creamy and never-cut-quite-perfectly, thicker than the others, and with a delicacy of flavor that contradicts their slightly-rough exterior and countrified name.
These are like a heavy cheesecake, with none of the transparency or shine of the others---they’re more like Lemon ICEBOX Pie, the one with Eagle Brand to cloud the color and richen the texture and flavor.
We may make both. Can’t have too many lemon bars or too much chocolate.
Ooey Gooey Lemon Bars
1 Betty Crocker butter yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 c. finely-chopped macadamias (opt.)
Mix and press into sprayed 9x13. Preheat oven to 350.
Some people use lemon cake mix, but we prefer the yellow---the lemon mix has a definite flavor of extract, and interferes with the pure fresh lemon flavor of the filling.
1 box powdered sugar (4 cups)
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
½ tsp. vanilla
2 T. finely-grated lemon zest
Beat cheese and eggs smooth with mixer; beat in powdered sugar 1/2 at a time, then stir in vanilla and zest. Pour over unbaked crust and bake 30—35 minutes.
May puff a bit, and will be thicker than the other recipe. Cool and chill. Cut into 6 portions, run a knife or spatula around edges of pan, and remove pieces from pan with wide spatula. Cut each one into 6 pieces, cutting straight down with thin sharp cleaver-type knife. Wipe knife with wet paper towel between cuts. Garnish with pouf of whipped cream, topped with quarter-slice of lemon or a raspberry or even an old-fashioned lemon drop.
These look even nicer if you make straight-down clean cuts all around the uncut edges, to even them up, for the sides will have crawled up the pan a bit. Keep refrigerated stacked between wax paper in Tupperware.