When you have wonderful friends, you want to feed them wonderful food.
Which is a convenient sentiment, since I was brought up to never arrive empty-handed. So even after a very long week at work (during which I did not even run to the convenience store for milk, let alone go to the grocery store) I still needed to make lemon bars. And yes, I NEEDED to make lemon bars. I’ve actually been dreaming about my Nannie’s lemon bars for weeks, and going to Newport was really just a fabulous excuse to finally make them. And then to get them out of the house. Yes, that part was key.
But at eight o’clock in the evening, when I pulled out the lemon bar recipe, I realized I had only about half of the ingredients I needed. No powdered sugar, just a handful of granulated sugar packets, and only half a cup of all-purpose flour. At least I had lemons. But Nannie’s lemon bars had a lovely, delicate pastry crust and a big, thick layer of yellow custard topped with plenty of powdered sugar. And did I go to the store for powdered sugar? Of course not.
It actually worked out for the best. These lemon bars are really nothing like Nannie’s, but they are lovely and creamy and addictive. And after a beautiful and sunny day of sailing, we gobbled them up. Grinding up turbinado sugar for the custard may be a bit much, if you actually have granulated sugar in the house. So you can probably substitute, if you like. But I really loved this crust. Who knew that whole wheat flour and turbinado sugar would make for such great flavor?
Lemon Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes about 2 dozen small bars
for the crust:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
for the custard:
3 tablespoons lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
for the frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the flours, sugar, salt, and butter. Press the crust mixture into the bottom and sides of a square eight-by-eight inch baking pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly crisp around the edges.
Meanwhile, mix together the lemon zest, juice, eggs and granulated sugar. Whir the turbinado sugar in the food processor until it has the texture of granulated sugar. Add to the lemon mixture and pour evenly into the crust. Bake 15-20 minutes until the custard is set. Cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the butter until fluffy, add the cream cheese and vanilla and beat well. Whir the turbinado sugar in a food processor until it has the texture of granulated sugar. Add the sugar to the frosting and beat to incorporate. Spread the frosting over the cooled custard and cut into bars. Keep in the refrigerator 3-5 days.