My mother’s lemon bars are legendary. They’re from The Pleasure of Cooking, and I and others in my household have been recognized to request them in lieu of cake on birthdays and just about some other event. So after I heard about this new grapefruit bar recipe and realized that they have been basically lemon bars, add the grapefruit, I used to be curious, skeptical, and prepared for a citrus-bar showdown.
In really dimwitted style, I scheduled the bake-off for the weekend after my mother and father moved, and I may hardly discover the oven amid the bins. Now was clearly not the time to problem my mother to a head-to-head baking battle (she would’ve cried). As a substitute, I unearthed the measuring cups and launched into a grapefruit-bar journey alone…whereas my mother and father fretted over closet area upstairs.
I’m so glad I did. These bars are nothing like those I grew up consuming, which contain merely pouring a mix of sugar, cornstarch, lemon, and egg over a shortbread crust and baking it. These bars have magic, and that magic is CURD. As I discovered from a crash course with the recipe’s mastermind, Chris Morocco, curd means you prepare dinner it, i.e. you warmth the lemon combination (typically over a double boiler; on this case, proper within the saucepan) till it simmers, you then whisk in butter steadily. All these years I believed I used to be curd-ing however I used to be actually simply mixing stuff collectively! Because it seems, the additional work yields an unbelievably tender, pillowy, creamy-bright filling that makes different lemon bars look sort of unhappy and deflated compared. Sorry, Mother!
Making the shortbread crust was easy because of my finest buddy the meals processor. My dough by no means grew to become dough, precisely, extra like unfastened sand, however I simply pressed it into the pan whereas my mother and father rearranged furnishings within the subsequent room, and, after 25 minutes within the oven, it had change into a wonderfully golden-brown crust.
Whereas that was baking, I candied the grapefruit peel—one other cooking factor I’d by no means completed earlier than! It was fairly simple, however attempt to keep away from the pith (the white stuff beneath the peel), as a result of even a half cup of sugar can’t masks that a lot bitterness. Additionally, the recipe says to discard the sugar syrup after simmering the grapefruit, however let me counsel you put it aside for cocktails: It’s like an Aperol easy syrup, and who wouldn’t love that?
Then it was time for the curd. I’ll admit that there was a quick second—okay, about eight minutes of fixed whisking—after I hated the curd. Sweating, arm cramping, a handyman drilling holes in a wall someplace: All of it felt like torture…till, thank the Lord, the creamy, pale yellow, just-thick-enough combination was completed, together with all of my grip power.
I poured it over the shortbread, topped it with the candied grapefruit, and despatched it into the oven for a remaining bake. Then I chilled the bars within the fridge for a number of hours whereas I situated a number of bins of Christmas decorations and went to city. I counsel letting these bars chill for so long as potential, in a single day should you can stand it, as a result of the curd will probably be simpler to chop and the shortbread may have absorbed a few of the scrumptious, citrusy goo (an excellent factor). I solely gave them three hours as a result of I had a practice to catch, so my bars obtained somewhat sloppy, however the taste was unreal—pops of citrus and cream balanced by the buttery richness of the crust—and those I left in my mother and father’ fridge obtained rave evaluations for look and style.
Am I a complete curd convert? Will I by no means ask my mother for her lemon bars once more? I gained’t make any guarantees, however I’ll make you some curd—as quickly as my power returns.
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