There is a certain category of items for which it is better to cultivate friend-owners of these things than to own them yourself: vacation homes, designer cocktail dresses, boats, power tools bigger than a breadbox. To this list, I’d like to add Meyer lemon trees. Meyer lemons are exotic and pricy in Mid-Atlantic grocery stores, so receiving a generous care package full of them from a friend in the Southwest is a luxurious treat. To the owners, the prolific trees are a happy burden, requiring juicing and shipping and canning and baking. You can have too much of a good, tart-but-not-too-tart, floral, zesty thing. But friends of owners, we just beg and borrow.
As the Mid-Atlantic recipient of the aforementioned care package, I set about juicing and baking my gift lemons right away. If you get your hands on some Meyer lemons this year, consider these magically delicious lemon bars. More like a key lime pie than the sometimes-gelatinous standard variety, we found them positively dreamy.
Dreamy Creamy Lemon Bars
Makes 15-20 bars, depending on how generously you cut them.
Adapted from Joe’s recipe at Culinary in the Desert and the recipe on the condensed milk label
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for the tops
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice*
2 tablespoons fresh grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9″ square baking pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.
Cream butter, confectioner’s sugar and salt together until light. Gently beat in the flour, mixing only until combined. Pat the mixture into the prepared pan and prick all over with a fork. Bake until golden at the edges, about 15 minutes.
While the crust layer bakes, beat together the eggs, yolks, condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Pour mixture onto hot crust and return to the oven, baking until just set in the center, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before dusting generously with confectioner’s sugar and cutting into bars.
*If you don’t have Meyer lemons, you can sub regular lemons plus one orange for a reasonable approximation.