Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lemongrass and Coconut Shortbread Bars

Lemongrass Coconut Shortbread bars

I truly wanted to share this recipe sooner. I wanted to post it over a week ago, honest. However, I encountered a series of unfortunate technological events over the past week ranging from computer viruses to no electricity.

I was a very sad baker.

Luckily I had these cheery little lemon delights to keep me going.

I think my favorite part of these bars is the crust, especially because I'm a fiend for coconut. I love the extra flavor it brought to these, and also the light, flaky texture it created in the shortbread. I had to fudge with the lemon layer a bit as I didn't have enough lemongrass, but they ended up with a very bright lemon flavor with just a hint of something a bit more subtle from the lemongrass. They would be a perfect dessert for a sunny Memorial Day cookout!

Lemongrass Coconut Shortbread bars

Lemongrass and Coconut Shortbread Bars
(adapted from Bon Appetit)

Makes 24 bars

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

For the Filling:
1 1/4 cup sugar
heaping 1/4 cup lemongrass, finely diced (bottom 4 inches only, tough outer layer removed)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
5 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Pinch salt

Powdered sugar for dusting

1. Crust: Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Beat together the flour, coconut, powdered sugar and salt in a large bowl until well blended. Add the butter and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat on low until moist clumps form. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan and about 1/2 inch up the sides. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes (the edges will be a bit darker).

2. Filling: While the crust is baking, add the sugar and lemongrass to a food processor and pulse until the lemongrass is finely ground. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and process until well blended. Add the eggs and process to blend, about 15 seconds. Finally, add the flour and salt and process until very smooth. 

3. Reduce the oven temperature to 325F and pour the lemon filling over the hot crust. Bake until the filling is firm, about 20-23 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut the bars lengthwise into 4 strips, and then crosswise into 6 strips to make 24 bars. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

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