I will be very sad to see Meyer lemon season end. They’re so bright and cheery — little orange puff balls filled with puckery sweet goodness.
Last weekend, I was craving something lemony — something sweet and lemony. And nutty. And chocolatey.
Lemon bars sounded good. Sort of. But I’m not really a fan of the thick, jellied layer of lemon that adorns most recipes. I wanted something slightly creamier — creamier than the jellied lemon but definitely short of custard.
You ever get in those moods, where you’re all, “not quite this … but not quite that…”?
Probably not — I suspect ya’ll are much more agreeable than I am. But those moods do get me into the kitchen, experimenting.
So, here were my requirements for the bars: creamy lemon filling over white chocolate, layered on a macadamia nut crust.
Normally, when I’m makin’ up recipes, I’ll go through several iterations, to make sure the recipe is the way I want it, and more importantly, that it holds up to repetition.
Not this time, baby! We’re flying without a parachute!
Actually, I just wanted you to see what happens when a recipe isn’t quite right: the photos in this post show my first time through my initial recipe (the printed recipe below, however, contains the final version).
The verdict: really, really close, but the lemon layer was (1) still too jellied for my tastes and (2) not quite lemony enough. White chocolate layer: good. Macadamia nut crust: gooooood.
Getting the creamy texture just right required a little help from my stand mixer. I whipped the eggs and sugar together for about 2 minutes to get the texture in the photos above. The right creaminess, however, arrives at the thick ribbon stage: let the eggs and sugar whip for about 5 minutes, until the mixture drips off of a spatula in a slowish stream and forms a pool of ribbons in the batter before smoothing out (the mixture will also turn quite pale). Then gently stir in the flour, salt and lemon ingredients.
The surprise here, I have to admit, was the macadamia crust, how well it turned out: crust held firm, and there was just enough nuttiness to stand up to the lemon.
White Chocolate Meyer Lemon Squares with a Macadamia Nut Crust
adapted with numerous changes from KingArthurFlour.com
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, raw or dry roasted
9 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon, or 1 U.S. stick + 1 tablespoon), cut into large pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
zest from the lemons used for the juice below (zest them before squeezing)*
3 tablespoons meyer lemon juice (about 3 small or 2 medium lemons)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8″ x 8″ square pan, and line the bottom and two sides with a large rectangle of parchment paper or foil (allow the edges to hang over the pan – they’ll provide a handle for easy removal later).
2. If the nuts are raw, you can toast them briefly in a dry pan over medium-low heat until they start to turn just the lightest bit brown. Set aside to cool. Then, in a food processor, grind the nuts to a rough cornmeal-like texture. You’ll have somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of nut flour (no need to measure – it will be fine).
3. Add the remaining crust ingredients to the food processor bowl and pulse until the mixture is very coarse.
4. Press the crust firmly into the prepared pan, leveling as best as possible. Bake 20 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown lightly.
5. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they reach ribbon stage, about 5 minutes. Gently mix in the zest, lemon juice, flour and salt.
6. When the crust finishes baking and is still hot, spread the white chocolate chips evenly over the top. As they melt, smooth out with an offset spatula. Pour the lemon topping over the white chocolate layer, and return to the oven. Continue baking for 22-25 minutes. The surface will appear slightly matte and very lightly golden. Remove and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and use the parchment/foil handles to remove to a cool racking. Cool completely before cutting. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the top before serving, if desired.
*If you happen to have regular lemons on hand, I’d recommend using the zest from those lemons, and the juice from the meyer lemons. Meyer lemons are da bomb, but the zest isn’t lemon-zesty enough for my tastes.