I kind of have a black thumb. Maybe not really black, but I tend to plant and forget–until it’s too late. It’s a good thing John really picks up my slack in the gardening arena or we’d have a pretty bare-earth plot of suburbia. One of the first things he did after moving into our home was to plant citrus tress. So we have two lovely orange trees, a tasty Meyer lemon tree, and a Persian lime tree. That all currently bear a good amount of fruit. And that I scramble to do more with than add to the *ahem* compost pile.
This is the time of year where I really love living in the bay area. It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s wet but man, my citrus are erupting. This year I’m trying to save more fruit than I toss by making marmalade, preserves, and freezing juice cubes. But I can’t let go of the classics. Like lemon bars. I like to augment mine with another hardy garden staple–rosemary. Lemons and rosemary make me look like a gardening queen.
Lemons and rosemary pair as well together in sweet treats as they do in savory ones. The herbal, piney taste of the rosemary adds to the citrus bite of fresh lemon. In lemon bars, I put rosemary in with the pastry bottom and something almost magical happens when it gets all mixed in with the butter in the short crust. I also gently heat my lemon juice and let a rosemary sprig or two steep in it while I put together the rest of the ingredients.
It’s like a bite of summer–but with the freshest fruit and herb available right now. At least right now in my backyard. And if you’re in the neighborhood, please come by and pick a few for yourself.
Rosemary Lemon Bars
makes 16 small bars
- 1 1/4 cups AP flour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus additional for decorating)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool and firm, cut into 1″ pieces
- 2 egg yolks + 2 whole eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2/3 cup lemon juice + 1/4 cup finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup AP flour
- Gently heat the lemon juice either on the stove top or in the microwave. Place rosemary sprigs in the lemon juice to steep.
- For the crust: Preheat oven to 350˚. Lightly pan spray a 9×9 (or 8×8) square pan. In a medium bowl, blend together the 1 1/4 cups flour, powdered sugar, salt and chopped rosemary. Add the cubed butter and cut in using a pastry blender or two forks until the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour into prepared pan and press down firmly with your fingers to form an even crust.
- Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- When crust is about halfway through baking, prepare the filling: In a medium non-reactive bowl blend the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk until the eggs begin to turn a pale yellow. Add the lemon zest and whisk in. Strain the lemon juice into the bowl, discarding the rosemary sprigs. Whisk. Add the 1/4 cup flour and blend. The filling should be smooth and well incorporated.
- When the crust is done, remove from the oven and pour the filling over the hot crust. Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center jiggles slightly when shaken, 10-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Slice into 16 bars (or less if you like a more substantial treat) remove with an offset pastry spatula. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar right before serving–or eat as is. Enjoy!