By Mandy Simon
You may notice we’re big fans of Smitten Kitchen here at the IFA. Deb’s got some good stuff. Plus her food porn is the best on the web. Trust me. It’s so good that even though I’ve never wanted or craved a lemon bar in my life, as soon as I saw her recipe and photos I could not get them out of my head. I finally ended up making them about a month ago for a Top Chef screening. They were a big hit and, coincidentally, helped cool our smoldering mouths after Ezra’s fantastic Sichuan dinner.
About a week later I was in my kitchen looking at the sad remains of a neglected crate of clementines when lightning struck. Clementine bars!
Readers, I know you buy those huge amounts of clementines like me and like me you have the best of intentions. But sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. You may not be able to eat an entire crate of fruit before it rots. I understand. Take some of the pressure off yourself and try this instead. It works best when the clementines are super ripe and juicy — coincidentally, the final pre-rot phase of citrus.
Crossing my fingers, I did some guess work and adjusted Deb’s recipe. Though the cold I had at the time threw off my taste buds, I was assured they did not taste totally gross and were, in fact, delicious. I made them again last night for the Super Bowl and I’m feeling pretty cocky about them now.
This is the Smitten Kitchen version of Ina Garten’s lemon bars that I’ve edited for my own purposes. I halved the filling like Deb suggests.
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 clementine layer:
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons grated clementine zest (4 – 5 clementines depending on how rad your grater or microplane is)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice (I substitute a little orange if I can’t get that much juice out of the zested clementines)
2/3 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and SERIOUSLY grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet (the corners still might stick – keep those for yourself or offer them to your roommates as a consolation prize).
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can use a handmixer with regular beaters and it works fine). 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 (too much work — I cut out the middleman and just gather it into a ball straight from the bowl to the greased pan). Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill (a half hour in the fridge will do).
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. (I’ve been throwing it on my icy back porch while I make the filling. I am impatient.). Leave the oven on.
For the clementine layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, clementine zest, clementine juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, cut into your favorite shape and devour.