Lemon Bars

My best friend got married last weekend! I have known Erin since her first day of 7th grade when her family moved from Massachusetts to Colorado and I was assigned to give her a tour of our middle school (which I took very seriously, including pointing out obvious things such as drinking fountains). We've been friends ever since and I was so honored to be a part of her wedding.

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Golden City Brewery - the second largest brewery in Golden

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The view from Lookout Mountain, which overlooks Golden. I took this while on my bike riding up the mountain... Rob prefers that we not stop for photos!

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Erin's wedding weekend kicked off with a barbecue she hosted with her then-fiancé, Steve, at their adorable house in Golden, Colorado (the photos above are from Golden). A number of wedding guests arrived mid-week for the festivities and Erin found herself hosting more than thirty people for dinner on Thursday night. Erin has been the calmest, most organized bride and hasn't asked much of her bridesmaids so I was thrilled to finally be able to help by offering to take care of dessert for the party.

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I tossed around some more complicated ideas (e.g., trifle, homemade ice cream sandwiches) and then settled on manageable desserts that could be made in advance and would be fine sitting outside in the heat - peanut butter brownies, chocolate chip cookies, madeleines and lemon bars. I'll post about the other desserts at some point, but the lemon bars really stole the show and they could not have been easier to make.

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You won't be surprised to learn that the lemon bar recipe comes from Alexandra's Kitchen. I've never been a huge fan of lemon bars, but I wanted a variety of desserts and something about lemon bars says summer to me! Seriously... these took all of 10 minutes to prepare, excluding baking time, and they were a huge success at the barbecue. Even Rob who, when he discovered I was making lemon bars made a face that meant he didn't approve, couldn't resist eating several "crumbs" from the pan and declaring them delicious.

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The bars with the lemon layer ready for baking.

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Finished bars straight from the oven - I trimmed the browned edges from the bars and later regretted it. The edges were super delicious - very crunchy and sugary. I should have left them, even though they were brown.

I don't have any "tips" associated with this recipe. It is simple and straightforward and can be made ahead of time. I baked these, let them cool, and plated them the day before the barbecue so they were easy to deliver and set out for guests to enjoy. 

Lemon Bars

from Alexandra's Kitchen

Yield = 24-30 bars, depending on the size of bar you prefer - these are rich so I cut mine relatively small

Crust

1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup powdered sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

pinch salt

Lemon Layer

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

7 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup lemon zest

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ cup all-purpose flour

pinch salt

powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. Beat butter till fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar (start slowly so the powdered sugar doesn't fly everywhere). Beat in the flour one cup at a time. Add a pinch of salt. Press the dough into the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake crust till golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Beat sugar with eggs until blended. Add lemon juice and zest, baking powder, flour and salt, and beat until blended. Pour filling over hot crust. Bake until the filling is set in center and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes.

4. Dust lemon bars with powdered sugar and serve. I use a small strainer to lightly dust the bars (I don't own a sifter which would accomplish the same thing).

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