The weather in Denver was crazy last week. It went from sunny to tornadoes in less than 12 hours. Naturally our house had to get hit with massive amounts of hail at midnight on Wednesday, leaving me completely exhausted.
The worst thing of all is the state of my new garden… Let’s just say its bad. Really, really bad. My tomato plant is broken. My lovely herbs which were in abundance are now gone. Literally no flower petal remains on any of my roses.
As I went through the following day attempting to recover from minimal sleep and a devastating loss, I starting losing the battle to, as my mother would say, “turn my frown upside-down.”
I knew baking was the only way out of this slump.
You know the hardest thing about baking? Choosing the right recipe. It is ridiculously difficult when you want to make everything all at once and then follow the baking marathon by shoving massive amounts of chocolate and sugar in your face.
When I was in Italy, the only thing that brought me comfort when I was having a crappy day (usually the result of conflicts due to my poor Italian and walking what seemed like 5,000 miles to and from school) was a glass of limoncello. Therefore on this particularly low Thursday, I figured lemon was the only solution to my problems since our limoncello batch is still in process and I don’t have a stash stored up.
I am in love with these lemon bars. They are SO much better than those hum-drum lemon bars the PTA used to sell at bake sales during grade school. WAY better than those.
What do these bars go great with? With yet another bottle of champagne of course! That’s the second one in a week…
It was my husband’s idea. I swear….
Lemon Meringue Bars
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
6 large eggs, plus 4 large egg whites
2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350. Make crust: Put butter, flour, confectioners sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until well blended.
Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet. Press batter evenly into baking sheet. Chill in freezer 10 minutes. Bake until golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Make filling: Whisk together whole eggs, 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons lemon zest. Pour over crust. Bake until filling is set, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Keep oven at 350.
Make meringue topping: Put egg whites and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread meringue over filling, swirling to create soft peaks. Bake until meringue begins to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Cut into bars. Bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 1 day.