People ask me if I am from Pittsburgh? No, I moved here. Then I left. Then I returned. It was cheap, and my stuff was here, and it was no fairy tale. I returned to Pittsburgh for two major life tracks that both fell through. They fell hard, like coins falling through ripped jeans and clanking on the pavement.
It was a sour moment. Yet, I don’t think I shed a single tear (I’m all about regrouping). Turns out, those plans clanked to the sidewalk for a reason. The universe had something way sweeter in store for me (mainly, the Urban Farmer and a lil’ lass with punkin’ seeds for eyebrows). Sweet, sour, beautiful on the surface, then sticky, sludgy and messy, and yet, so damn good! That’s life, and that’s lemon bars!
So when life hands you life, make lemon bars!
Gluten Free Lemon Bars
yield: 24 bars & a sticky mess
For the Crust
1 cup (2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup organic organic evaporated cane sugar
1 teaspoon organic almond extract
2 cups organic almond meal (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
pinch of salt
For the Filling
4 large eggs (organic/cage-free)
1 1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1 /3 cup almond meal
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
24 thin lemon slices for garnish
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, line with parchment paper (so that it over hangs slightly from the pan) and grease the parchment paper. Set aside.
For the Crust:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer, and scrape down the sides of the bow with a spatulal.
Add flour and salt. Beat on low speed until dough is incorporated. Dough may come together, but if it remains shaggy, that’s fine too.
Dump the crust into the prepared pan, and use your fingertips to press the dough into the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until just browned around the edges.
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
For the Filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until well combined and slightly thick.
Add the flour, lemon juice, and zest and whisk until blended.
Pour the filling over the still warm baked crust. Return to the oven and bake for 18 to 20* minutes, or until lightly browned on top and no longer jiggling in the center.
*Note: If you want to add lemon slices as a garnish, add them after the filling has baked for ~7-9 minutes, so the lemons won’t sink.
Allow to cool completely in the pan. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Slice lemon bars into squares. Use the overhanging parchment paper to lift the squares out. To store the lemon bars, place them in an airtight container separated by wax paper layers.