Fresh summer fruit is the perfect topping for creamy lemon bars. TNS
A pan of dessert bars can have a loaves-and-fishes effect at any party: They’re nice cut into big bars, but they can be sliced smaller if extra friends show up. (If you try that with a pie, you’ll just end up with a mess on your hands.)
These recipes come together quickly and work well for entertaining, because they can be made ahead of time and require no serving utensils — they’re best eaten out of hand. They’re also great for toting to picnics, potlucks or just eating in your own backyard this summer.
LABNEH LEMON BARS
Labneh is a thick unsweetened Middle Eastern yogurt, and it gives these bars a flavor and texture between cheesecake and lemon bars. You can find it in many supermarkets and in Middle Eastern groceries.
45 minutes, plus cooling and chilling. Makes 2 dozen.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups packed powdered sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 large lemons
4 large eggs
1 container (16 ounces) labneh
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch cake pan with foil, leaving overhang on all sides, and lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk the flour, half a cup powdered sugar and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Add the butter, toss to coat, and press into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or your fingers until fine crumbs form. Or, use a food processor and pulse the dry ingredients until mixed, then pulse in the butter until fine crumbs form. Scatter the crumbs evenly across the bottom of the prepared pan and press firmly into the bottom in an even layer. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes.
3. While the crust bakes, make the filling: Finely grate one tablespoon zest from the lemons into a large bowl, then squeeze half a cup of juice into the bowl. (You may not need all four lemons.) Add the eggs, labneh, remaining three-quarters cup of powdered sugar and remaining quarter teaspoon salt and whisk slowly until smooth. You don’t want to create too many tiny bubbles while whisking or the top will look cratered after baking.
4. Remove the pan from the oven, pour the lemon filling over the hot crust and return the pan to the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Bake until set around edges and barely jiggly in the center, 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Cool the bars completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate until firm, at least two hours. Using the overhanging foil, lift and slide the bars onto a cutting board and cut into 24 bars.
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