Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Meyer Lemony Snicket!

Growing up on the East Coast, I was privy to some really wonderful foods, however because of our climate and because it was the 80's and 90's, the local/organic food craze hadn't yet started. Back in the late 90's Vine Ripe Tomatoes were still new in the grocery stores and Heirloom Tomatoes weren't in the state (or at least any of the grocery stores); even the Farmers Market didn't have "fancy" stuff like that.

When I started dating The Husband, he told me about living out in The Bay Area, and how his family had several Meyer Lemon trees in their yard. I had never ever heard of a Meyer Lemon! He tried to explain it, but back in 2003, there were no Meyer Lemons to be found in North Carolina. It wasn't until we went to San Francisco for our Honeymoon in 2008 and spent a morning wandering through the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building that I was finally able to see and taste a Meyer Lemon. 

They were DELIGHTFUL! For those of you who haven't ever had one, they are sweeter than regular lemons, the rind is thinner and they are much more fragrant.  We had them in a jam, we had them candied, we had them in a house, we had them with a mouse, we had those lemons here and there, we ate Meyer Lemons everywhere. All joking aside, The Husband had the look of "See, I told you these were amazing" and I couldn't disagree.

Of course coming back, all I wanted was to fine Meyer Lemons so I could make tangy/sweet dishes and desserts. It took a few more years and a trip to the Dill Pickle Co-op before I was able to find them here in Chicago (of course, now I see them all over Whole Foods).

The Husband loves Meyer Lemon, and as it's now the season, I decided to purchase a few on my last trip to the Dill Pickle, and make him a little something. I came across this recipe while searching for interesting things to do with Meyer Lemon. The tart of the lemon is balanced with the chocolate and it's a great snack. I brought some to my office, everyone thought I had spent forever on them (which I did not) and the shortbread was gone within minutes. 

I didn't make the glaze. Sadly I was running around my kitchen like a crazy person (as usual) and knocked over my extra lemon juice. I tried to save it, but it wasn't salvageable.  I can tell you, the bars are really great without it, but I think it would add a nice lemony sweetness to the dish. 

1 Cup  or 2 sticks of  unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into chunks
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Flour
3 Tbsp of Meyer Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips (I use Ghiradelli)

For the glaze
1 Cup Confectioner's Sugar
Lemon Juice to thin (1 1/2 lemons)

Preheat the oven to 325.

I lined an 8x8 square baking pan with parchment paper (you can use foil), this way you can pull the shortbread out of the pan without having it stick to the bottom and mess up your cutting.

Put the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl (or use your stand mixer) and drop in the butter.

Mix the flour, sugar and butter until the  mixture has a coarse crumb texture. When this happens, add the lemon juice and zest and mix until the dough just comes together. It will seem a little crumbly, that's okay.

I stirred the Chocolate chips with my hands, Make sure not to overwork, it's okay if they don't get into every nook and cranny of the mixture.

Press the dough into your pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until slightly puffed and slightly golden (not brown!) The edges will look a little more cooked than the center and the top will be just firm when lightly touched.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan (and removing the lining).

If you decide to go for the glaze, mix together the confectioner's sugar with enough lemon juice to thin it to a glaze consistency. You don't want it to be clumpy but you don't want it to be too thing, you want all of the sugar to be dissolved   Drizzle or spread over the cooled shortbread. 

When the glaze has firmed up, slice into squares.

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