My husband rarely eats dessert unless it has that tangy taste of lemon. Therefore, I was delighted to see a recipe from Melissa Clark in the New York Times for lemon bars calling for a “fruity” extra virgin olive oil.
Sadly, most of the fraudulent and mislabeled extra virgin olive oils available in the United States have no flavor. Melissa’s lemon bars (with a shoutout to Jenny Woodward) provide a wonderful platform to use our delicious Arbequina EVOO.
In addition to the discernible taste of olive oil, the creative use of sea salt makes the citrus flavor pop. If you are looking for a delightful dessert recipe for friends and family, these Lemon Bars make a delicious addition to any meal.
Lemon Curds with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
FOR THE CRUST:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour approximately 155 grams
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar approximately 50 grams
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar plus more for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
FOR THE CURD:
- 4 to 6 lemons
- 1 1/2 cups sugar approximately 300 grams
- 2 large eggs plus 3 yolks
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 4 tablespoons/57 grams butter
- 1/4 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil approximately 60 milliliters
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
- Heat oven to 325 degrees and line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with enough parchment to hang over two of the sides (to be used as handles later to lift the bars out of the pan).
- To make the shortbread base, pulse together the flour, granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor, or whisk together in a large bowl. Add butter and pulse (or use two knives or your fingers) to cut the butter into the flour until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into prepared pan and bake until shortbread is pale golden all over, 30 to 35 minutes.
- While the shortbread is baking, prepare the lemon curd: Grate 1/2 tablespoon zest from lemons and set aside. Squeeze lemons to yield 3/4 cup juice.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, sugar, eggs and yolks, cornstarch and fine sea salt over medium heat until boiling and thickened, 2 to 5 minutes. Make sure mixture comes to a boil and stays there for 30 seconds or so; you should see it thicken up before you take it off the heat. But once it boils do not cook for longer than 1 minute or you risk the curd thinning out again. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Whisk in butter, olive oil and lemon zest.
- When the shortbread is ready, take it out of the oven and carefully pour the lemon curd onto the shortbread base; return the pan to the oven. Bake until topping is just set, 10 to 15 minutes more. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and flaky sea salt right before serving.