Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lemon Bars

I had a hard time deciding what to make for dessert for Christmas dinner this year. I had lots of idea but I quickly started running out of time at Christmas approached. In the past I have made tarts, Buche de Noel, cakes etc. I had bought some Meyer lemons that I really needed to use so I finally settled on lemon bars as something I could put together easily but would also taste really good.

I used a recipe from alpineberry but I also included a half cup of creme fraiche to mimic a French lemon tart that is also very good. I cut them up into small squares and arranged them on a fancy plate. Along with a plate of gingerbread cookies, they disappeared. I was just going back to take a picture of the last two when I realized that they were all gone! Or almost all gone. Gina hadn't quite finished the last one.

Lemon Bars
(makes one 8-inch square pan)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/8 tsp salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 large eggs
1 cup superfine or bakers' sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

To make crust:
Combine flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse until the mixture is pebbly. Press evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake until lightly golden, about 18-20 minutes. Set aside crust.

To make filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Whisk in lemon zest, juice and creme fraiche until well combined. Pour over crust (it's okay if crust is still hot). Bake until filling is just set, about 15 to 18 minutes. Cool completely before serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

A few days after I sent off the Maple Pecan Cookies, I received a package in the mail from Jenny in Newport, Kentucky (the same person who received my cookies). Inside was a pretty tin filled with Kentucky Bourbon Balls. The smell of bourbon was pretty strong on opening the box, and boy were they good. They are definitely a good cookie to send by mail.

Included in the cookie exchange was also a haiku:
Bourbon Balls yummy
Yummy in my tummy tum
Next year maybe rum?

I may have to make a batch with rum myself.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Growing up, I would make 8 to 10 different kinds of cookies over a weekend with my grandmother. Over time, it evolved into me making the cookies for her, to be given away to all her friends. Now I don't seem to find the time to make all the different kinds of cookies. This year, I had a cookie exchange to attend and a cookie exchange by mail so I found a recipe that sounded good and made a lot of cookies. I made Glazed Maple Pecan Cookies from the blog Under the High Chair. The dough was easy to put together, formed into logs, and then refrigerated overnight. Then it was just a matter of slicing and baking. The glaze consisted of maple syrup and powdered sugar. For the first batch, I followed the proportions and it came out really thick, more like frosting and it was hard to glaze the cookies. The second time I made the glaze, I started with 1/4 cup syrup and 1/2 cup sugar and then slowly added more sugar to make a glaze. I loved the combination of maple and pecan though the maple flavor was more subtle since I omitted the maple flavoring and my family devoured the ones that were left after the two cookie exchanges. I guess I will have to make more.