Traditional lemon bars balance the tangy sweetness of lemon curd with a rich shortbread crust. This recipe adds extra notes of flavor to the mix: the compelling bitterness of good olive oil and a touch of sea salt sprinkled on top. Choose an olive oil with personality, otherwise you’ll miss the point. Della Terra offers an herbal and fresh tasting oil with peppery finish. Although the bars will last up to five days when stored in the fridge, they have the brightest flavor when eaten within 24 hours of baking.
FOR THE CRUST
FOR THE CRUST
- 1¼cups all-purpose flour
- ¼cup granulated sugar
- 3tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- ¼teaspoon fine sea salt
- 10tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 4 to 6 meyerlemons
- 1½cups sugar
- 2large eggs plus 3 yolks
- 1½teaspoons cornstarch
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 4tablespoons butter
- ¼cup Della Terra extra-virgin olive oil
- Confectioners’ sugar and flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
- Heat oven to 325° degrees and line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with enough parchment to hang over two of the sides (to be used as handles later to lift the bars out of the pan).
- To make the shortbread base, mix together the flour, granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor, or whisk together in a large bowl. Add butter and mix, cut the butter into the flour until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into a prepared pan and bake until shortbread is pale golden all over, 30 to 35 minutes.
- While the shortbread is baking, prepare the lemon curd: Grate ½ tablespoon zest from lemons and set aside. Squeeze lemons to yield ¾ cup juice.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, sugar, eggs and yolks, cornstarch and fine sea salt over medium heat until boiling and thickened, 2 to 5 minutes. Make sure the mixture comes to a boil and stays there for 30 seconds or so; you should see it thicken up before you take it off the heat. But once it boils do not cook for longer than 1 minute or you risk the curd thinning out again. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Whisk in butter, olive oil and lemon zest.
- When the shortbread is ready, take it out of the oven and carefully pour the lemon curd onto the shortbread base; return the pan to the oven. Bake until topping is just set, 10 to 15 minutes more. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and flaky sea salt right before serving.