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Lemon Bars with Brown-Butter Shortbread Crust

Brown butter adds a nutty flavor to the crust of these pleasantly tart lemon bars.

  • Yield: Makes 24
Lemon Bars with Brown-Butter Shortbread Crust

Source: Martha Bakes, January 2011

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Pinch of salt

For the Filling

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 small lemon, finely grated

For Serving

  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions

  1. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; line baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 3-inch overhang on all sides.

  2. Make the crust: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until barely browned in color. Remove pan from heat and pour butter into the bowl of an electric mixer, leaving any burned sediment behind. Transfer butter to refrigerator until solidified. When solidified, remove from refrigerator and let soften slightly.

  3. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until butter is smooth. Sift flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt into bowl; mix on low speed until combined.

  4. Transfer dough to prepared pan and press evenly into bottom of the pan using the back of a measuring cup; it should be about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to refrigerator; chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  6. Transfer baking pan to oven and bake until crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. If crust appears to be browning unevenly, rotate pan.

  7. Make the filling: Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Add lemon juice and zest; whisk to dissolve granulated sugar. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk until well combined.

  8. When the crust is golden brown, pull out oven rack and evenly pour filling mixture directly over hot crust (if crust has finished baking before filling has been made, return crust to oven for a few minutes so that it is hot). If air bubbles appear on the surface, remove them using a kitchen torch held 4 to 5 inches from the surface, moving in a slow even motion. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake until center is set, 30 to 40 minutes.

  9. Remove baking pan from oven and transfer to a wire rack. Let lemon bars cool completely before covering and transferring to refrigerator until chilled.

  10. Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry, cut lemon bars into twenty-four 2-inch squares and dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving, if desired.

Cook's Note

Lemon bars will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Reviews (6)

  • karen clark 16 Jan, 2015

    I have made this twice and I must say it is very good. The extra steps browning the butter is well worth the trouble. The family gives rave reviews.

  • iloveprisims 28 Apr, 2012

    My family and I Loved this recipe! The brown butter shortbread is definitely worth the extra step! This recipe will be well used

  • iloveprisims 28 Apr, 2012

    My family and I Loved this recipe! The brown butter shortbread is definitely worth the extra step! This recipe will be well used

  • Dee999 16 Jan, 2012

    I too did not brown the butter, but just used softened butter. I used Meyer lemons, only 1 cup of lemon juice... Very tangy, but the right balance of sweet! I highly recommend using this recipe. Next time I will be sure to leave in for the full forty minutes, as they could have used it.

  • OhCripe 8 Nov, 2011

    Delicious! Don't let all the steps keep you from making these cookie bars. I didn't melt the butter and all of that. My butter was super soft at room temperature so I just went from there. I'm sure it would be better if I followed the directions. But these cookie bars were a hit!

  • naturalbaker 20 Oct, 2011

    it was just okay. The lemon part should not hit the back of your mouth, like a bad bottle of wine. A lemon bar should be smooth with just the right amount of lemon and by velvety smooth.

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