In light of Mother Nature wanting to make sure we can appreciate the warmer months that will be coming (hopefully, soon! please-oh-please-oh-please!), I was thrilled to receive a taste of Spring in the package that I received from Frieda's Specialty Produce.
A package of these juicy lemons was just what was called for after having several weeks that had either below freezing temperatures or a minimum of ice or snow to cancel school so that the kids haven't had a full week of school so far this year. Yes, you could say that I'm craving something that will help me picture my happy place which always has plenty of sunshine and warm weather!
When I was trying to figure out how best to use these lovely lemons, I combed through my many cookbooks and magazines. I knew I'd found the perfect recipe when I stumbled upon the 2008 issue of The Best of America's Test Kitchen. I have a really hard time letting go of any of their magazines or special issues because I know that the recipes are typically "never fail" because they are so thoroughly tested.
The recipe I used was actually for The Best Key Lime Bars, but the simple substitute of Meyer Lemon juice and zest works equally well in this recipe. I made these bars to have something to offset the heavy appetizer evening we had for watching the Super Bowl and the commercials... and the best part of the evening - Bruno Mars!! I adore him and his half time show just made me love him even more!
These bars were a bright spot in the evening (along with Bruno) and I found myself wanting to nibble them again and again... until there were no more left. The creamy filling didn't have to compete with the crust since using animal crackers kept the flavor of the crust pretty neutral. They were definitely not too sweet, which is kind of a change for me... but, oh-so-satisfying because they brought to mind thoughts of summer days!
Looking for a way to bring a ray of sunshine into your day? Then, check out the vast array of #WinterCitrus from Frieda's! You can check HERE to see if your local store carries their specialty produce... and if they don't, you can request that they start carrying their produce!
Meyer Lemon Bars
For the crust:
- 5 ounces animal crackers
- 3 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon grated Meyer lemon zest
- pinch of salt
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing extra foil to hang over edges of the pan. Lightly coat the foil lined pan with cooking spray.
- Prepare the crust: Process the animal crackers in a food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds (should make about 1-1/4 cups crumbs). Add the brown sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened, pulsing briefly 10 times. Evenly press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. Leave the oven on while preparing the filling. Allow the crust to cool in pan on a wire rack.
- To prepare the filling: Combine the cream cheese, zest and salt in a medium bowl. Add the condensed milk and whisk until incorporated and no lumps remain. Whisk in the egg yolk. Finally, add the lemon juice and whisk gently until incorporated.
- To assemble: Pour the filling into the cooled crust and use a spatula to smooth out the top of the filling. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are set and begin to pull away from the sides. Allow to cool for 1-2 hours on a wire rack, then cover and refrigerate another 2 hours.
- Loosen the edges with a paring knife and remove from the pan using the overlap of the aluminum foil. Using a chef's knife, cut into 16 squares.
Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.