Saturday, April 09, 2011

Lemonicious feast

Lemon bars

Ok, so lemonicious is not a word. Big deal!

It's the only word that comes to mind when explosions of lemon occured in my mouth from one bite of these lemon bars.

I had been craving lemon curd slices for a while. Whilst I'm usually satisfied by a slice of lemon tart, I'd been hunting around for a slice recipe for sometime now because sometimes, I just want it satisfied in the shortest amount of time possible - like 1 hour instead of 12+ hours (which incidentally is how long it takes to make my favourite Lemon Tart by Pierre Hermé)

Incidentally, I found this recipe when reading through my feed a few weeks ago and it ticked the box for:
  • shortcrust pastry
  • lemon curd filling
  • simplicity in ingredients
  • baked in under 1hr
Starred! on Google Reader for another day..

The "other day" arrived last Sunday using the 2 lemons that C brought back from work - gifted from a colleague's backyard tree.

I immediately thought of David's recipe though when I re-read the recipe, I realised that the recipe called for 1 whole organic lemon that would be pulverised along with other filing ingredients and forms part of the curd.

When I saw that, I hesitated... I wasn't so sure about the whole lemon thing. I had no idea whether the lemon I was using was 'organic' or not. Given the lack of history and the fact that what I had to work with was still rock hard, I had no choice but to improvise. So I zested the lemon and removed the pith, using the lemon segments and zest as a substitute instead.

All I can say after all that is that David Lebovitz sure doesn't disappoint when he claimed that these were good.

Once you start, you just can't stop! 

Head over to David's to see how he came up with these delicious bars.

Lemon Bars
by David LeBovitz

Lemons vary in size David used lemons weighing around 175g (6oz). 

1 cup (140g) flour
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (115g) melted unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon Curd Topping
1 lemon, organic or unsprayed
1 cup (200g) sugar
3 tablespoons (45ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 teaspoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (45g) melted unsalted butter

Optional: icing sugar, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
  2. Overturn an 8-inch square pan on the counter and wrap the outside snugly with foil, shiny side up. Remove the foil, turn the pan over, and fit the foil into the pan, pressing to nudge the foil into the corners. The smooth it as best you can.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt, melted butter, and vanilla, stirring just until smooth.
  4. Smooth the batter into the bottom of the pan, using your hands or a small offset spatula to get it as level as possible.
  5. Bake the crust for 25 minutes, or until it’s deep-golden brown.
  6. While the crust is cooking, cut the lemon in half, remove the seeds, and cut the lemon into chunks.
  7. Put the chunks of lemon in a food processor or blender along with the sugar and lemon juice, and let it run until the lemon is completely broken up. Add the eggs, corn starch, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 3 tablespoons (45g) melted butter, and blend until almost smooth. (A few tiny bits of lemon pieces are normal and encouraged.)
  8. When the crust comes out of the oven, reduce the heat of the oven to 150º (300ºF) . Pour the lemon filling over the hot crust and bake for 25 minutes or just until the filling stops jiggling and is barely set.**
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once cool, carefully lift out the bars grasping the foil. Cut the bars into squares or rectangles. Sift powdered sugar over the top just before serving, if desired.

It might be worth pouring the lemon filling through a sift as I ended up with a lot of bubbles on my curd after it's been cooked. Alternately, you could tap the tray or poke the bubbles so that the end result is a little more pleasing.. ;)

The bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature up to three days. You can freeze the lemon bars as well for up to one month, letting them come to room temperature before serving.


Friday, February 04, 2011

I can't remember...

... the last time I made these.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that it'd be about 2 years since I last made and ate these. 

These and the originals from Amai Tea and Bake House.

Amai Tea and Bake house, as we all know closed almost 2 years ago - and that is (almost) how long it has been since I left London. 2009 seemed like it was only yesterday, when I left London for home with hopes of return that were never fulfilled. (Yes, I did go back to London last year, but it was regretfully more of a farewell visit than a return)
2009 was also the year I last visited New York and stepped into the quaint little store called Amai on 3rd Avenue and left with almost USD50 worth of goodies - cookies, cakes and the lot.
Let me just say that, the green tea brownie was worth the $$. Of the rest that I lugged back to London, only the memories of the Earl Grey and Cranberries cookies lingered in my mind. But anyway, that was a glimpse of the past.

Since the recipe for these famous cookies were made available online (in 2007), many a moons have tried it. This lot was my 2nd attempt, that was semi (ok, heavily!) modified in flavour. 
I think I like mine better... LOL

Green Tea and Black Sesame Cookies

Matcha (+ Kurogoma) Cookies
adapted from this recipe

Ingredients (for 1 flavour)

3/4 cup (2.25 oz) Icing sugar
5 oz Unsalted butter, cut into cubes (room temperature)
1 + 3/4 cup (8.5 oz) All-purpose flour
3 Large egg yolks
1 cup (8 oz) caster sugar (for coating)

1.5 tbsp Matcha OR 3 tbsp Roasted Ground Sesame*
1 cookie cutter (shape of your choice)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Whisk the icing sugar and green tea together in a bowl.
  3. Add butter and green tea/sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. 
  4. Mix until smooth and light in color.
  5. Add the flour and mix until well combined.
  6. Add the egg yolks and mix just until the eggs are fully incorporated and the dough comes together.
  7. Form the dough into a disk and chill in the refrigerator until firm (approximately 30 minutes).
  8. Roll the dough out to roughly 1.25cm (1/2") thickness.
  9. Cut the dough with a cookie cutter.
  10. Toss each cut cookie in a bowl of granulated sugar to coat.
  11. Place the sugar-coated cookie on a lined pan. 
  12. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.

I used roasted ground black sesame purchased from a japanese supermarket.
I also used 3 tbsp as the flavour didn't quite come out with 1.5 tbsp - yep, I tasted the cookie dough.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

In 2011..

2009 New Years Eve Fireworks

I vow to...

I think I'd better not vow to do anything just yet...

maybe just work-life-balance..

(Photo from Central Park, NY taken on 1.1.2009)