Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Provencal Citrus Bars

I love a good lemon bar, but sometimes it leaves something to be desired. I came across a coupon for lemon bars in a local flyer and haven't been able to get them out of my head. To explain the seemingly odd yet unexplainably delicious flavors in my shortbread, a little time travel is warranted. When I was young, my mother used to take me to Seven Arrows herb farm. After petting sheep and playing with the ducks and other critters who populated the gardens, sometimes I was lucky enough to get a vegan treat. Now, I know the word vegan conjures up awful thoughts of carob brownies and other substitutes for good food. But there was one treat that I loved then and still think is brilliant: an orange scented lavender & thyme shortbread. So those flavors play sidekick here to a lovely lemon lime curd.

Shortbread Crust

1 Tbsp. thyme
2 tsp. food grade lavender

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into half inch pieces
1 tsp. pure lemon or orange extract (not artificial flavoring)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8' square baking dish.

Crush the thyme and lavender with a mortar and pestle. Combine with flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and extract and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Pat into the pan and press down evenly. Prick all over with a fork. Bake 18 minutes or until slightly browned at edges. Leave oven on.

Lemon Lime Filling

5 large eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
the zest of 2 lemons and a lime
juice of 2 lemons and a lime (should be about 2/3 cup)
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp. lemon extract

Whisk together all filling ingredients. Pour over the crust (it doesn't matter if it's still warm). Bake for 40 minutes or until about 5 minutes after it sets. Let cool to room temperature and dust with powdered sugar if desired.

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