Meyer Lemon Bars


My mom’s friend Judy Conway brought some Meyer lemons to me the other day from her yard in the south Bay Area. Two, actually.  They were thin-skinned, very fragrant, and heavy for their size. I had to refrigerate them immediately, they were so ripe. In other words, screaming to be made into something that acknowledged their almost-over-the-edge awesomeness.  I Googled “lemon bars” and Ina Garten’s classic take popped up. I started with the amount of juice and zest my plump Meyers delivered, and worked backwards from there. In downsizing her recipe to the amount of lemon juice I had, I ended up using an odd-sized pan (7 x 10”)  which further throws off the proportions, yielding a thicker crust and curd. I took it another step by slightly overcooking both steps, allowing  these gorgeous Meyers (and Mexican sugar, see below) to slightly caramelize. Savor the rare qualities of this classic sweet.


For the crust:
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar (I prefer pure cane Mexican sugars for their glorious, unrefined chunkiness)
1 cup  flour
fat shake of kosher salt

For the filling:
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (preferably Mexican) sugar
1 tablespoon grated Meyer lemon zest  (depending on size and skin, 2-5)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (depending on size, 2-5)
1/2 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until completely mixed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a standard hand mixer, but beware this small batch might gum up the beaters. Gently scrape down, and add the flour. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until completely mixed.  Using floured hands, gather the dough into a ball inside the bowl. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into an approximately 7×10” glass or metal baking container, building up a small rim around the edges. Chill for 20 minutes.

Bake the crust for 20 to 25  minutes, until the surface is a light caramel brown. Set aside on a wire cooling rack, leaving oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust, then bake for about 35 minutes, until the filling is set and the top is slightly browned. Let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, set pan in sink, or over wax paper, and sift/sieve powdered sugar over the top. Wipe rim of baking dish.

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