Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I've tried and failed at making lemon bars a few times before. Maybe because I was trying to find shortcuts or make 1/8 what the recipe calls for. The crust was always good, but the filling had none of the delicious gooey tartness that I love in lemon bars. During my last day at home, I finally made a batch (well, half batch) and while it's not perfect, it's pretty good.

I like my lemon bars tart, but if you like them sweeter, feel free to add more sugar to the filling or the crust. And please, use real lemon juice. The bottled stuff just doesn't cut it.

Lemon Bar

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
zest of 1 lemon

2 eggs
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine melted butter, flour, confectioners' sugar, and lemon zest to make the crust. Press into the bottom of a lined and greased 8x8 pan, making sure that it is even. Bake at a 350 degrees oven for 20 minutes. It should be barely golden.

To make filling, combine eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to get all the lumps out. Pour into baked crust and return to the oven for 25-30 minutes. The tops will be set and may be cracked. Let cool completely to facilitate cutting. Dust with powdered sugar.

Carrot Cake

I think I am in love with cream cheese frosting. The carrot cake is just a vehicle for my obsession.

Carrot Cake

1 lb carrots (about 6)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grate the carrots using the bigger sized grater. Mix in 1/4 cup brown sugar to the grated carrots. Toss in the raisins to allow them to rehydrate in the carrot juice that is released.

Whisk together the eggs, remaining sugar, and oil. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and stir until just combined. Stir in the carrot mixture and add in the chopped walnuts.

Pour into a 9x11 greased and lined pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened (1 package)
2 oz butter, softened (1/2 stick)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted

Whip cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add in vanilla. Gradually whip in confectioners' sugar until silky. Add in more confectioners' sugar if you prefer it sweeter. Store covered in the fridge.