Cherry Lime Bars
I did a lot of research on this one. Lemon bars are one of my absolute favorite sweets but I always have a hard time with them. I don't know why because they seem so simple! Like I can make french macarons no problem! But lemon bars? Hit and miss! Sometimes the crust gets soggy or the filling never sets or is overcooked. My friend Hailey and I got together to bake treats for Christmas once and we made lemon bars and when we pulled them out of the oven, they had little bubbles of unincorporated egg white cooked on top! Gross. We blame the eggs from my parent's chickens we used with really firm whites that were hard to whisk into the filling... Ya, let's go with that. We now call this the "lemon bar curse". So, after reading a lot more information and recipes on lemon bars than I cared to or even thought existed, I came across Cook's Illustrated recipe for Best Lemon Bars and I gotta say: they really are. They wrote a whole article on the why behind everything which was so helpful. The keys to the recipe are to use granulated sugar instead of powdered for an extra crisp crust, reduce the lemon juice so as not to have to use extra thickeners such as flour or cornstarch which dull the citrus flavor, add in cream of tartar which is naturally acidic and adds that extra sour punch, and cook the filling first before adding to the crust, essentially making a curd.
Now, you may have noticed we're not even making lemon bars here! But the method is exactly the same and just subbing in lime juice here and adding fresh Summer cherries. Yaasss. These are so, so good. Like I can't stress enough how good these are. If you like cherry limeade, these are for you. I had the idea to make these bars when I was at the farmer's market a few weeks ago looking at all the gorgeous cherries. I wanted to make a lime version of lemon bars and somehow nestle fresh cherries on top. But I knew I needed a thicker filling that would hold them in place and so they wouldn't sink. This filling was just the ticket. The result is a crispy, buttery shortbread crust, bright and extra limey, creamy filling, and juicy ripe cherries. These are a winner. Let me know if you make these and be sure to tag me on Instagram and use #allpurposeflourchild so I can see your creations! Enjoy!
Cherry Lime Bars
makes 9 bars
1 c all purpose flour
1/4 c organic granulated cane sugar
1/2 t Himalayan pink salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 c organic cane sugar
2 T all purpose flour
2 t cream of tartar
1/4 t Himalayan pink salt
2/3 c lime juice, freshly squeezed (about 6-8 limes)
2 t lime zest
3 large eggs, room temperature (preferably pasture-raised)
3 large egg yolks
4 T unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
18 fresh black cherries, pitted and halved (I wouldn't recommend frozen here as they'll discolor the bars)
powdered sugar, to serve
make the crust
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan with parchment leaving about an inch overhang on either side. We'll use these wings to easily lift the bars out later. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt then stir in the butter until a dough is formed. Press the dough evenly in the bottom of the baking pan with your hands, pressing it all the way to the edges and in the corners. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until dark golden brown.
make the filling
While the crust bakes, let's make the filling. In the same bowl you made the crust in, whisk together the sugar, flour, cream of tartar, and salt to combine. Add in the eggs and yolks and whisk until fully incorporated then add in the lime juice until fully combined. Add to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and registers 160 degrees, about 5-10 minutes. Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and is at 160 degrees, remove from heat and stir in the butter cubes. Once butter has fully combined, pour the filling through a fine mesh strainer back into the mixing bowl to remove any lumps. Whisk in the lime zest. Pour filling over the hot crust. Nestle the cherry halves gently in the surface of the filling. In an 8 x 8 inch pan, I found a grid of 6 cherries across and down fit perfectly. Bake for about 8-12 minutes, until set and the middle wobbles just a little when you jiggle the pan. Let cool at least 1/1/2 to 2 hours before slicing. I know this is difficult but it will turn into a goopy, sticky mess if you try to slice into it before it's completely cooled. Trust me, it's worth the wait! For clean slices, I recommend dipping the knife in a glass of hot water then drying off and wiping knife off in between slices. Slice into 9 even bars and dust with powdered sugar if you'd like. Enjoy!
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated