Lemon bars are meant to be tangy, sweet, creamy with a great buttery shortbread crust but it can get prosaic and dreary. Pistachio adds an ancillary crunch and sea salt elevates the whole bar, making it all peppy and vivacious. This is a classic old school, no fuss treat. It is perfect for family get together or weeknight dessert or snack. There are two kinds of people when it comes to citrus desserts, one who feel repugnance and hostile towards it or one like me who loves a well made citrus dessert; not too sweet or chokingly tart.
I love Tarte Au Citron aka lemon tart and these bars are just perfect when you do not want all the fuss of a tart or if you are beginner and just want a simple lemon dessert. You can use your favorite lemon curd recipe but since I wanted a quicker method, here we just whisk ingredients and add it to the crust. You can definitely replace pistachios and use almonds but I think pistachios are more flavorful and gives a beautifully green color.
Pistachios with lemon is an amazing combination, nutty and scintillating. I have used slivered pistachios which can be hard to find so feel free to use regular pistachios or even salted pistachios in which case omit the salt. For the sea salt on top, it is totally optional but if using; use a good flaky variety like fleur de sel. Please make sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice and not the bottled stuff. Lemon zest is a crucial part of any lemon dessert as it contains essential oil and all the lemony flavor without that zip tart flavor. While you zest be careful and use only yellow part; not the white pith which is bitter.
Adapted from New York Times
- 120 grams/ 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 30 grams/ 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 35 grams/ 1/4 cup unsalted pistachio, finely chopped
- 113 grams/ 1/2 cup/ 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- 2 eggs
- 200 grams/ 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 45 grams/ 1/3 cup pistachio, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar, optional for dusting
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or flaky sea salt, optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 8 inch square pan with parchment paper keeping the sides hanging.
- In a food processor pulse together flour, sugar, salt and finely chopped pistachio. Add cold butter and pulse till it is combined. Transfer it to prepared baking pan and pat with fingers or bottom of a glass (incase it sticks use parchment paper).
- Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and set over a cooling rack.
- Whisk together eggs, sugar, baking powder, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest and roughly chopped pistachio. Pour the filling in baking pan over crust and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove and let cool completely on cooling rack. Run a knife all around and remove from pan. Dust with confectioner’s sugar when ready to serve. Store in refrigerator for up to three days.