It simply wouldn’t be a spring brunch without lemon bars, bright citrus curd layered over a buttery shortbread crust. We add thyme for an herbal savory note that pairs beautifully with tart lemon. And the kickers: a splash of olive oil for a punch of fruity acidity and a tender crust laced with almond flour.
Many are frightened by custard, and rightfully so, because it can be tricky. We take out the fuss of tempering egg yolks and cook the whole custard at once. The most crucial part is always whisking, and if you stay with your pan, you’ll see a beautiful custard come together. Don’t walk away for even one minute, or you may end up with scrambled eggs.
Yield: 12 bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, plus cooling and chilling time
For the Crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup almond flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
For the Curd:
- 1½ cups sugar
- ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs, plus 3 yolks
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- For Assembly:
- Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
- Thyme leaves, for garnish
1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325° and line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper so it hangs over the edges of the pan. In a food processor, add all the crust ingredients and pulse until a crumbly dough forms. Press the dough into the prepared pan, covering the entire surface. Bake until golden, 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the curd: In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, lemon juice and zest, cornstarch, salt, eggs and egg yolks until smooth. Add the thyme sprigs and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain, then stir in the butter and olive oil until smooth.
3. Immediately after removing the crust from the oven, pour the curd over the crust, spreading evenly with an offset spatula. Return to the oven and bake until set, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely, then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan, using the overhanging parchment. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with thyme leaves, then cut into twelve 4½-by-1½-inch bars and serve.
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