easy desserts & recipes: orgasmic lemon bar recipe by ina garten

easy desserts & recipes: orgasmic lemon bars recipe by ina garden

I was determined to make something new for Valentine’s Day. This got me thinking about many of the commercial Valentine treats… heart-shaped chocolate cake, strawberry this, apple that. But not once have I seen or had lemon squares, lemon bites, lemon bars, they have quite a few names behind them. Come to think of it, I have not had a lemon bar for more than 15 years! I had almost forgotten what they taste like. With this thought in mind, I decided to refresh my memory and prepared for my task.

Lemon bars were first made by Breyer’s in the 1950’s. It was initially made as a summer treat because it was easier to eat desserts cut in bars. It’s still a popular dessert and almost always a staple in Southern American pastries. I decided to use Ina Garten’s (Barefoot Constessa) recipe for lemon bars. I’ve seen her briefly on Food Network, a glimpse here and there. I don’t really own many cookbooks that aren’t iPad or kindle ready (being the organizational freak, slightly compulsive that I am, more than I really care too much to admit).

Since my cookies had such a profound effect on my beau *wink*, I thought he would most likely appreciate the contrasting sweetness and sourness of lemon bars because he even likes spicy and sweet. Hmmm, maybe that’s why he loves me so much! We will be celebrating our 12th year of marriage soon (OMG! did I just say that out loud?). But hey, it is something to be proud about, with most marriages lasting shorter than I care to remember… this is one thing I won’t be hiding, even if it will somewhat give away my age!

easy desserts & recipes: orgasmic lemon bars recipe by ina garden

After moving to Japan, and spurts of living vicariously through Ziggy with trips off to Paris to just sink my teeth into something très French, my taste buds have changed! I’d like to think I have a more sophisticated taste in food. Long gone are the days when a Twinkie or a Twix bar would have satisfied my craving for sweets. But then again, the last time I had a Twinkie or anything remotely similar, I was, uhm, maybe five. Growing up my parents had a rule; they’d buy one or two packages of sweets that have a long-shelf-life. The ones that are bad for you! All laden with HCFS, a truck load of sugar and empty calories, and whatever else. Once they were eaten and gone, that was it. Sundays were always a special day. My mother would cook us up something fabulous from Mille Crepe’s to something I can’t even begin to pronounce and of course, ice cream! It was the only time we were allowed to indulge.

easy desserts & recipes: orgasmic lemon bars recipe by ina garden

{Shot in JPEG Format}

After moving to Japan, I noticed a strong influence of French and Italian, in terms of sweets and pastries. I love old-fashioned American desserts, but I love Italian and French a whole lot more. I adore Ube desserts, (the purple yam ice cream… Love, love, LOVE it!) Somewhere between the age of 5 and 14 my taste buds craved for more than just the familiar tastes of cheese steak sandwiches, I lusted for other more exotic flavors but never grew tired of the familiar tastes I’ve grown up with.

I love old-fashioned American desserts because they are simple and delicious. I love French desserts because they are less sweet and refined. I cannot even begin to describe how much I love Italian desserts because those were what I had as treats when I was young; the balance of the sweet is pleasurable. I cannot stand anything that make my teeth hurt, like icing, colorful sprinkles, with who knows what dyes are used in “certain candy”, sheet cakes, or icing that comes in containers. I love Ina Garten’s recipe because the custard on the lemon bars came out perfect, although they were too sweet for me. This got me thinking, have some of the American packaged sweets become too sweet that our taste buds have become desensitized? I feel the same about Japanese food, the overly salty flavors led me to ask for no or little salt (I’m a pepper girl all the way!).

easy desserts & recipes: orgasmic lemon bars recipe by ina garden

{Shot in Raw Format)

I added a dash bit more of salt to the tart/crust layer, and it reminded me of nibbling on a “Walkers” shortbread. PERFECTO! Anyhoo, I saw the Mister’s eye gleaming for a bite while the lemon bars were cooling on the rack in the kitchen. I handed him a bite-sized square and only heard a muttered “Hmmmm” I said, what do you mean “hmmm?” with a spatula in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other. I was about to give him a utilitarian kick!

This was his first time ever to try a lemon square. I hadn’t had one since I was in my 20′s, and I’m sure I bought it, but I remember it being delish. I like Ina Garten’s recipe because it had more eggs so I knew it would be custard-y. I think aside from the delish results, they were a little too sweet. I would use one cup of sugar or possibly two rather than the three cups it calls for, but that’s just me.

Dig in!

easy desserts & recipes: orgasmic lemon bars recipe by ina garden

{Food Photography Tips}

1. Fun Placemats (Felt Placemats) and Damask(From Violet Linen), Flower Placemats (Like here at Target) Felt Flower Placemats from World Market. World Market is a pretty awesome place for food photography backgrounds and much more.
2. Glassware Plates (bought for under $1.50) I happen to buy them at the 100 yen shop in Japan (Dollar Store but much more chic and cool) but look around, you’ll find something.
3. Lots, and lots of natural sunlight, and a soft box always helps. Post Processing in Adobe Lightroom 3, since we are a mac based family, to be honest, I used the “Sharpen” mode in “Preview” application because it gave me the results I wanted, you can manipulate this more using raw images. A good camera goes a long way too. These were shot with a Nikon D7000 but I also use my Nikon D3. Didn’t even bother to changes lenses.

Orgasmic Lemon Bars Adapted from The Food Network Online, Adapted from Ina Garten The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ingredients

For the crust:

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Direction

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.


Photography Data:

Camera Nikon D7000
ISO Speed 400
Guest Photographer Marie Cinq-Mars
Flash Off, Did not fire
Resolution 300 dpi
Software Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.5 (Macintosh)
Exposure Program Aperture-priority AE
Metering Mode Multi-segment
Exposure Mode Auto
White Balance Auto
Contrast Normal
Saturation High
Sharpness Hard
Lens 18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6

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25 comments

  • February 20, 2012 at 10:57 am //

    Love it…feb is My favorite food month…recipes just come out of the wood work of imagination….

    • February 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm //

      Thank you JMS = )

  • February 20, 2012 at 11:53 am //

    Wow, what gorgeous pictures! And they sure do sound orgasmic ;)

    • February 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm //

      Thank you so much Kiri, they are really tastebud provoking = )

  • February 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm //

    I love desserts that are less sweet, and it’s such a nice break from all the pink heart shaped cookies and candy. Also interesting to see the difference between raw and jpeg, I’ve been meaning to switch to raw once I have some free time to have more freedom with white balance.

    Congratulations on your upcoming 12 year anniversary!!

    • February 21, 2012 at 10:21 am //

      So, so true Kat, I went against the grain with this V-day dessert, I think I’ll reduce the sugar a bit, but I really do like Ina Garten’s Recipes. 12 years..GAH. Marriage is not easy but worth it if it’s with the right beau. I just don’t know what I’m going to bake him for his b-day.

  • February 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm //

    I wonder why more people don’t do lemon desserts for V-Day. I did go the cliche way this year, but I’ll have to remember lemon for next (my husband loves any and all lemon desserts.) And great photography tips. I’ve been thinking about a light box for quite some time.

    • February 21, 2012 at 10:19 am //

      This is truly a great recipe, although I think I will reduce the sugar a bit next time, we really like Ina Gareten’s Recipes, I’m going to try her cheesecake next.

  • February 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm //

    Beautiful post are pictures…I love these lemon bars…

    • February 21, 2012 at 10:18 am //

      Thank you so much.

  • February 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm //

    Wow.. love lemon bars. Your photography is amazing. I’m such a beginner and have NO idea what i’m doing! But I’m loving learning

    • February 21, 2012 at 10:18 am //

      Thank you so much Lauren, We are so happy you are enjoying the photography tips.

  • February 21, 2012 at 2:02 am //

    Really nice recipe. I’ve never made lemon bars (my wife is the dessert maven in our house, though I make a few) but I love them – I should give this recipe a try. Truly enjoy your posts and especially all the photography info. The pictures are spectacular, and it’s always interesting to learn a little bit about how you’re making the pictures. Thanks.

    • February 21, 2012 at 10:17 am //

      Thank you, I really do love Ina Garten’s Recipes, although I will reduce the sugar next time, the recipe is a keeper!!!

  • February 21, 2012 at 2:07 am //

    I am totally in love with the pics!! and the lemon bars.. no need to say they look absolutely delish!! The photography tips are of great help. Thanks!

    • February 21, 2012 at 10:15 am //

      Thank you so much Spandana, I’m so happy you are enjoying the photography tips = )

  • February 21, 2012 at 9:25 am //

    Anything labled orgasmic has got to be good. They certainly look orgasmic. The perfect lemon bar search has been on my radar for quite some time :)

    • February 21, 2012 at 10:14 am //

      These were really invoking an orgasmic response “wink” the recipe was really spot on. I love Ina Garten’s Recipes.

  • February 21, 2012 at 11:51 am //

    I was actually looking though my old lemon bar recipes over the weekend. I haven’t had any in quite a while either, and there were some gorgeous hybrid lemons in the local grocer right now that I want to try out.

  • February 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm //

    i love the thickness of the crust on these… it’s hard to find that and i think that’s what it takes to make a good lemon bar!

  • February 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm //

    Wow, that looks so pretty! I bet it taste so good too!

  • February 23, 2012 at 6:03 am //

    These look amazing!!!

    • February 24, 2012 at 8:22 am //

      Thank you Denise.

  • February 23, 2012 at 11:06 am //

    These look positively terrific, close to perfect!

    • February 24, 2012 at 8:20 am //

      Thank you Clarion = )