Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Bars

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These dainty Meyer lemon bars are made extra special with the addition of fresh blueberries and a toasted coconut shortbread cookie crust! 

There are SO many recipes around for lemon bars, that it is really hard to know where to start!  But when I came across a recipe by Mountain Mama Cooks for lemon bars with toasted coconut in the crust, I KNEW it was the one for me!!  Then, I kicked it up a notch with the addition of a big handful of fresh juicy blueberries.  They add a wonderful color and texture balance, and just a hint of tartness to balance out the sweet lemony filling.  Keep in mind that Meyer lemons are not quite as tart as regular lemons, and a little sweeter.  They are a like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange.

Ingredients:
Crust -
  •  2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, toasted and cooled
  • 12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Filling -
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries + 1 tsp flour to dust (or cornstarch)
Note - Meyer lemons are not as sour and tart as regular lemons.  If you are using regular lemons, you may want to either cut back on the amount of lemon juice or add more sugar.

Step-by-Step:
Crust -
Add the coconut into a rimmed pan and broil to toast (~ 6 minutes total), shaking the coconut around every couple of minutes.  Watch it carefully!  
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

Toasted coconut... yum!!
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and coconut in a food processor.  
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup toasted and cooled coconut
Pulse to combine.
Then add the cold cubes of butter and pulse until the whole mixture resembles wet sand and begins to clump together a little bit. 
12 Tbsp cold butter, cut into 1/2" squares.
Press the dough into the baking dish.  You can use your fingers, or a meat pounder, or even the bottom of a drinking glass.  
 

Bake the crust at 350 F for 25 minutes.
You want a nice uniform thickness.
Filling -
Into the food processor combine sugar, eggs, lemon zest and juice, flour, baking powder, and salt.
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
3 Tbsp lemon jest (I needed 4 lemons for this.  You may need more lemons depending on their size.)
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
2 tsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
Process this mixture on low until well mixed and smooth.   Pour the filling over the warm crust.

In a small bowl, dust the blueberries in a little flour and shake the excess off.  The flour will help to keep the blueberries from bleeding.  
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
A little flour or cornstarch.  No need to really measure.
 Add the floured blueberries, and return the dish to the oven.  Bake for another 25 minutes uncovered.
 
Cool completely.  Use a sharp knife to go around the short ends of the dish where the filling is in contact with the dish, then use the parchment to lift the whole thing out.  Cut into squares or bars. Garnish with powdered sugar.  I actually let mine cool overnight in the fridge.  
 



Written Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.  Line the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish with parchment paper, allowing it to come up the sides.  Later, we will use that to pull the whole dessert out of the dish. Add the coconut into a rimmed pan and broil to toast (~ 6 minutes total), shaking the coconut around every couple of minutes.  Watch it carefully! 

To make the crust - combine flour, sugar, salt, and coconut in a food processor.  Pulse to combine.  Then add the cold cubes of butter and pulse until the whole mixture resembles wet sand and begins to clump together a little bit.  Press the dough into the baking dish.  Bake crust for 25 minutes at 350 F. 

While the crust is baking, make the filling - Into the food processor (clean first, please), combine sugar, eggs, lemon zest and juice, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Process this mixture on low until well mixed and smooth.  In a small bowl, dust the blueberries in a little flour and shake the excess off.  The flour will help to keep the blueberries from bleeding. 

Pour the filling over the warm crust, add the floured blueberries, and return the dish to the oven.  Bake for another 25 minutes uncovered.  Cool completely and garnish with powdered sugar.  Use a sharp knife to go around the short ends of the dish where the filling is in contact with the dish, then use the parchment to lift the whole thing out.  Cut into squares or bars.  

Looking for more great desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth?
Mississippi Mud Puddles
 Homemade Snickers Bars
Double Chocolate Pecan Pie
Lily's Blackberry Cobbler
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