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Monday, May 4, 2009

Cookie Carnival: Toasted Almond Lemon Bars Recipe and Round-up

I am blown away by all the amazing bakers that joined in the fun with this month's Cookie Carnival! Lovely Kate at The Clean Plate Club invited me to be a guest host for this month and choose the recipe.

I chose the Toasted Almond Lemon Bars from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. Kate and I agreed that something spring-like and lemony would be perfect this month. I thought that Melissa Murphy's take on a classic would be interesting for all of us to try.

These lemon bars have a buttery shortbread crust that is complimented by the addition of toasted almonds in the dough and then, just to add a bit more to the flavor there is the addition of some almond extract to the filling as well.

The recipe was a bit more labor intensive than some lemon bar recipes, but I for one thought it was worth it for such delicious results. I do know that some Carnivalers had a little bit of an issue with the filling getting a white layer on top. From what I can tell from the recipe I think that issue probably happens if you over whisk/mix the filling and get too many air bubbles in the curd. I barely mixed my filling together until it came together and didn't have any issues with the filling.

My thanks go out to Kate for letting me host this month's Carnival and especially to all of you amazing bakers who joined in the fun this month! I really, really appreciate all of you and hope that you enjoyed making this recipe!

We have a fantastic roundup, so here we go!!! The photo is above each Carnivaler's link and I thought it would be fun to give a little snippet of what each baker had to say about this recipe in keeping with the way Kate usually puts the roundup together. Without further ado...

First up was Jackie at Food Wanderlust who said, " I LOVED this recipe, so delicious.
So much so, that I actually never go to take pictures of my lemon bars."

Cristine at Cooking with Cristine said, "What makes these lemon bars stand out from others is the ground almonds in the crust."

Kate at The Clean Plate Club our fearless Carnival leader and creator said,
"DELICIOUS. super lemony. but sweet enough."

Natalie at Snooky Doodle Cakes & More said,
"I know I only made a small amount and perhaps that is why they came so thin."
Ah. Smart girl. Portion control.

Aisha at Sugar-n-Sweets said, "This one was a winner!" -
I am glad since I believe it was her first Carnival! Welcome Aisha!

'Cookie" at Workout then Cook! said, "these Lemon Bars were AMAZING!"
- she also changed things up so you'll have to go check it out!

Anissa of Anissa’s Kitchen said, "I was a little sceptical about adding almonds to a lemon bar recipe....I love lemon bars and these were Yummy!"

Linda at Baking Foodie said, "A friend of mine brought me some lemons from her tree about a week ago." How lucky is that!

Martha at Best Ever Cookie Collection changed things up due to some allergies, so check it out, and said, "The nuts in the crust added interest and they had the perfect sweet-tart contrast I love."

Whitney at Celestial Confections said,
"This will go into the favorite recipe file and will definitely be made again."

Lesley at The Cherub’s Food & Craft said, "These bars are delicious."

Tessa at The Cookin' Chemist said,
"Overall, it was a great first go at the Cookie Carnival."
Welcome to the Carnival Tessa!

Susan at She’s Becoming DoughMessTic joined in the Carnival fun this month
for the first time and said, "these are in a league all their own." Yay for Susan! Welcome!

Sallie at My Sisters Kitchen said
"The shortbread crust is probably the best of it's kind that I have tasted."

Carol at No Reason Needed said,
"I just couldn't get past the thought of C-R-U-N-C-H-Y lemon bars."

Sucrose Obsession said, "I have no idea who Melissa is but I'm not a fan of her lemon bars." Hope you like the next challenge better! Welcome to the Carnival anyway!

Christine at Whimsical Bakery said,
"What a nice treat the lemon is very tangy and the almond shortbread crust

Lauren at Fried Pickles and Ice Cream said, "I'm not the biggest fan of lemon bars..." I'm glad her husband's co-workers enjoyed them then!

Sihan at Fundamentally Flawed said, "The shortcrust base though... was a God-sent with the added frangrance of almonds pushing the entire dessert just over the border of satisfactory."

Juliana at horneAndo Algo writes in Spanish, so in my pathetic attempt
(sorry Juliana - feel free to correct me) said, "really they are worth while"
(at least that is what the free translator said it meant!)

Nilam at Just Regular Every Day Life said,
"I've never made lemon bars before, so this was a new experience for me."

Mary Ann at Meet Me in the Kitchen said,
"Lemon Bars were something I remember having as a kid and nothing
is as good as a homemade lemon bar."

Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy said,
"I am sure that there are lots of great recipes in the Sweet Melissa Baking book,
but for me, I wouldn’t make this one again."

Shelley at Playing with Tablespoons said "I LOVE almond flavoured things." Me too!!

Debbie at Let Them Eat Cake said, "I see more of these lemon bars in my baking future!"

Jacque at Daisy Lane Cakes said,
"I really enjoyed these lemon bars, they were tangy, lemony, and addictive."

Rachelle at Mommy I’m Hungry said,
"Yum! Perfect for the start of Spring."

Toasted Almond Lemon Bars
From The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
Makes 1 dozen bars

"Everyone loves lemon bars. I make mine extra special by adding toasted almonds to the shortbread crust."

For the Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 Tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

For the Lemon Filling:
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 7 lemons)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

To Toast the Almonds:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden and you can smell them. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Before You Start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 - inch pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Make a parchment "sling" by cutting two pieces of parchment paper, measuring 16 1/2 inches long by 12 inches wide (you can also use aluminum foil). Place one piece across the length, and the other across the width of the pan, with the excess hanging over the edges. You will use this sling later to lift the finished bar from the pan. Spray the sling with the cooking spray.

To Make the Crust:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, almonds, and salt to combine. Add the cold butter in pieces and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball.

2. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the sides. (This crust, once it is baked, needs to act as a liner in which to pour the liquidy lemon filling. So be sure to do a good job of pressing the dough up the sides - no cracks!). Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights ( you can use dried beans or uncooked rice as pie weights as well). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Carefully remove the pie weights and the liner and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the whole crust is golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

To Make the Filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the almond extract and flour, and whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice, and whisk to combine.

To Complete the Bars:
1. Pour the lemon filling into the prepared crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm and lightly golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

2. When cool use the parchment sling to lift the entire bar from the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice into twelve 3 x 3 1/2 - inch bars. Remove from the pan and, using a small sifter, dust with the confectioners' sugar.

The bars keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.


Rachelle @ "Mommy? I'm Hungry!" said...

Whoo hoo! Lots of lemons!
I know my bars are always white on top, and ireally whicked it, by hand. Maybe that is why. *blushes, whoops* Next time I won't so much. lol

Anonymous said...

Nice turnout! I actually made these twice last month, but they got eaten up before I could take any pictures (both times!). I would have to concur that these lemon bars were delicious.

LaDue & Crew said...

They sound fabulous, and have bookmarked to make later! Holly, your pics always look stunning!

anissa ferguson said...

This was a great recipe! Thanks for hosting.

Tami said...

Wow, what a great turnout this month! You did a great job, too!

I can't wait to make these bars since I didn't get the chance to because we were in the process of moving. After all of the great comments on them, I will definitely give them a try!

On to May's cookie!

Mary Ann said...

Thanks for hosting and picking a delicious cookie! The round-up looks great.

Cristine said...

Loving all the lemon! Great round-up!

juliana said...

Great round-up, and great recipe!
and yes, i said something like that ;).

kate said...

holly, thanks again! you did a fab job and i really appreciate it so much!

Paintergirl said...

I made these lemon bars. Can I tell you they were gobbled up at my in-laws before I had a whole one. And mine didn't look as pretty---but the little bit I had WONDERFUL!!!

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