Lemon Curd Squares + The Winner

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My Dad hates citrus in baked goods. Thus, I have always been leery of cooking with lemons, oranges, limes, etc.

Reuben loves lemon bars. When he informed me of this, I promised to make him some. I searched the internet over for the perfect recipe, and settled one entitled “Lemon Curd Squares.” When I saw that the ingredient list included cream, I knew I needed to make them.

And I wasn’t disappointed in my choice. Reuben loves them. He requested I send several bars in his lunch so he could share them with the other guys. That day he posted on my Facebook wall: “Best lemon bars ever. :)” <— Proudest. Moment. Ever.

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These lemon bars are the perfect medium between overpoweringly sweet and mouth-puckering sour. The crust is wonderfully tasty, enhanced by a smidgen of cinnamon. Dust with a little powdered sugar, and you have an elegant, scrumptious dessert.

Lemon Curd Squares

Adapted from Willams-Sanoma | Printable Recipe | Makes 12 Bars

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used half white, half whole wheat)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used demerara)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For the lemon filling:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used ground demerara)
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. heavy cream
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions:

To make the crust:

1.) Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish (preferably glass) and line with parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse briefly until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs and sticks together when pinched, about 1 minute. There should be no trace of dryness. Press the dough into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared baking dish, lightly flouring your fingertips if necessary to prevent them from sticking. Bake the crust until pale golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the filling:

1.) In a bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest. Add the eggs, lemon juice and cream and whisk until just blended. Carefully pour the mixture over the baked crust.

Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly when the dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes, or longer if using a metal pan. Transfer the pan to the wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes. Run the tip of a small knife along the inside of the dish to loosen the crust from the sides, then let cool completely.

Cut into 12 small rectangles (fewer if you want larger bars). Grab the sides of parchment paper that stick out from the pan and carefully remove the bars from the dish. Just before serving, sift a dusting of confectioners sugar over the bars.

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Now for the Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner!

capture31The winner is: Commenter #55: Michelle who said, “Admiral! Why? Because I serve in the Navy and I absolutely adore a beautiful sailor dress that is not too short or revealing. It is beautiful!!!”

Congratulations, Michelle!

Thank you to all who entered my giveaway. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

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Shabby Apple Giveaway!

Have you ever visited Shabby Apple? If not, you are in for a real treat. I have long been an admirer of their shop, so you can image how excited I was to be able to host a giveaway. This adorable online clothing boutique offers vintage-inspired dressesskirtsaprons, and more!

Some of my favorites are this red trench coat dress (named Lois Lane – how cute!), this chocolate military style dress, and this black maxi dress.

Would you like to win an item of your choice from Shabby Apple?
Here’s how it works:

[Mandatory] Visit Shabby Apple, come back and leave a comment telling me which dress/skirt/apron you would choose if you won. You must also “like” Shabby Apple on Facebook.

Rules:

You MUST provide a valid email address so I can contact you if you win.

Only one comment per person.

US residents only, please!

If you are the winner, you must respond within 48 hours with your mailing address or a new winner will be selected.

Giveaway ends Tuesday, December 20 at 12:00 noon Central Time. Not comments will be considered for entry after that time.

I will select one (1) winner using random.org.

Good luck!

You can receive 10% off your order at Shabby Apple by using the coupon code “cooking4seven10off“. Coupon good until January 9, 2012.

How To Cut Butter + The Winner

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Have you ever been frustrated by trying to cut butter for pastry or biscuits? Have you wished for individual little squares, only to make smooshed-together pieces? Here’s my method for getting separated squares quickly every time.

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1) Start with cold butter. Cut it into thirds (more if you want smaller pieces) lengthwise, keeping the pieces separated.

2) Turn the pieces on their sides and cut in half (more if you want smaller pieces). Separate and lay out on your cutting board.

3) Keeping the pieces separate, cut the butter crosswise, resulting in little squares.

4) Keep the little pieces separate on your cutting board, and you’re done!

Now for the Bialetti Espresso Maker Winner!

Commenter #215: Debbie Bray, whose favorite hot drink is hot cocoa!

Thank you all for entering my giveaway. Have a lovely day!

Affogato + Bialetti Espresso Maker Review and Giveaway

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My dad is the king of espresso. For almost as long as I can remember, he has been making his own lattes on a fancy espresso maker. As a little girl, I eagerly anticipated the sound of the milk frothing, hoping there would be a little leftover for me to sip.

Then, I upgraded to the real deal: a carefully crafted latte, composed of perfectly brewed espresso, frothy whole milk, and a splash of vanilla syrup. My dad makes the best lattes, hands down; they are addicting.

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Thus, when Bialetti offered to send me one of their products to review, of course I selected their stainless espresso maker. Espresso on your stovetop? It sounded too good to be true.

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Here’s the espresso maker disassembled.  I love the design: so elegant.

So how does it work?

You fill the little bottom tank with water, add espresso to the funnel-shaped filter, and screw on the top (I loved that the directions instructed you to not “prize on the handle”). Place on the stove, turn on the heat, and, hey-presto! You have espresso in minutes. The espresso percolates into the top park of the coffee maker.

Yes, it really does work.

But the real question is: would I buy one?

Answer: Yes.

It is extraordinarily easy to use and clean, and it takes up so little space in the cupboard. The espresso is excellent. The price is a bit of a damper (around $40), but I think it’s worth it for a quality product. And it’s much less expensive than many of the automatic machines.

Here’s a tip I learned from a knowledgeable coffee shop worker: as soon as you hear the pot bubbling and fizzing, remove it from the heat. Otherwise, your espresso will be very bitter.

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On to the Affogato.

Rich, slightly bitter espresso poured over cool, creamy, sweet ice cream. This is Affogato al Caffè (Italian for “drowned in coffee”), a super-simple, elegant dessert.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:

Affogato al Caffè

  • Good quality vanilla ice cream
  • Hot, strong espresso

Directions:

Scoop the ice cream into small bowls or cups. Place in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes. Brew your espresso and pour over the firm ice cream. Enjoy!

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Would you like to win an espresso maker of your own?

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The folks at Bialetti have generously offered to give away a Class espresso maker to one lucky Cooking for Seven reader!

Here’s how it works:

[Mandatory] Leave a comment on this post, answering the following question: What’s your favorite hot drink?

Rules:

You MUST provide a valid email address so I can contact you if you win.

Only one comment per person.

US residents only, please!

If you are the winner, you must respond within 48 hours with your mailing address or a new winner will be selected.

Giveaway ends Monday, December 5 at 12:00 noon Central Time.

I will select one (1) winner using random.org.

Good luck!