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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lower Fat Lemon Bars

With Snow out of action, I've had to cut back on my charity baking for a few weeks. Getting her around town can be a chore because she still thinks she can jump up in the car and jump out of the car - not to mention looking out the back windows. So, I've been able to do some recipes lately that make much smaller batches.

One recipe I came across recently was in Cook's Country for Lemon Squares with a big cut in fat and calories. Honestly, I was skeptical. Take a big chunk of butter out of the crust? Reduce the eggs and sugar in the filling? It sounded like a recipe for disaster - or at the very least some really bland and chewy lemon bars!

Surprisingly, they were right. It can be done! The recipe turned out great bars with a superb flaky and buttery shortbread base and a super tart and yummy filling! According to the recipe the changes reduce the fat from 16g per serving to 6g and the calories from a whopping 330 per bar to 190. I also thought that using Splenda might reduce the calories even more. When I calculated the nutritional info (here's a great tool!) I found that if Splenda was substituted the calories would drop to 135.9 and the fat to 5.7g per serving. That's a pretty good loss of calories as well. Obviously, I didn't use that option in the test, but if you try it let me know in the comments whether the Splenda worked well in this.

: Lower Fat Lemon Bars
: Less than half the fat and nearly half the calories of traditional lemon bars but with all the taste!

Crust
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 3 tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
  • 1 tbs. whole milk
Filling
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 6 tbs. lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 tbs. confectioner's sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and adjust oven rack to middle position. Line an 8 inch square cake pan with aluminum foil so that edges hang over by 2 inches. Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Add butter cubes and beat at medium speed until mixture has crumbs about the size of small peas. Add lemon zest and milk and mix until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Pour mixture into prepared pan and use hands to flatten crust and insure an even layer. Bake at 350 for 16-20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and set on wire rack to cool 15-20 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk together the granulated sugar, egg, egg white, flour and salt until smooth. Whisk in lemon zest and lemon juice until smooth. Pour filling over cooled crust and bake until center is set - about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on wire rack. Dust with confectioner's sugar. Using the foil overhang, remove the lemon bars from the pan and cut into 9 squares.
If you do not have a large stand mixer (such as Kitchen Aid) you can use a food processor to create the crust. Add the dry ingredients to the food processor and pulse to combine. Then add the milk and lemon zest and pulse about 10 times until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Proceed as in directions.

I found that self-rising flour could be easily substituted in this recipe. Simply leave out the salt and baking powder in the crust and the salt in the filling.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 9

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