Second, she has one of the best lemon bar recipes around: the Lemon Curd Squares with Rosemary from her cookbook In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite. And I say this as someone whose husband uses every get-together as an opportunity to further his quest for the perfect lemon bar recipe. (It helps that we have a Meyer lemon tree in the back yard.)
I’m not going to say that one is better than the other — I don’t need that kind of grief at home, and anyway I’m not sure I could make the call. Husband’s current recipe has the best curd I’ve tasted: knock-you-on-your-ass intense, with twice as much lemon juice and three times as much lemon zest as Clark’s.
But when it comes to the shortbread crust, I’m afraid Melissa Clark is the winner. Her crust is rich and herbaceous, flecked with rosemary and lemon zest. It’s thicker than most recipes, but perfectly crispy, thanks to pre-baking and a generous hand with the butter. If you have a food processor, it goes together in minutes — just pulse the ingredients until the dough starts to get crumbly, then pat it into the baking pan.
The lemon curd that tops it is nicely tart — not as intense as my husband’s recipe, but perfectly balanced with the rosemary shortbread. (Also, it only takes 3 or 4 lemons, instead of 12 — convenient for anyone who doesn’t have a lemon tree handy.)
The hardest part comes when you take the shortbread out of the oven after pre-baking it. At that stage, it’s all warm and golden brown, smelling like rosemary and butter cookies. You’re supposed to pour in the filling and return it to the oven, but I have to admit: I considered sneaking a few bites of shortbread out of the middle of the pan first. I resisted the urge, but only because I was taking the lemon bars to a dinner party.
The recipe is from Melissa Clark’s cookbook, In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.