I love finding new ways to tweak old classics — it’s a great exercise in cooking creatively, and oftentimes is a way to make sure that ingredients get eaten instead of thrown out. I was recently given a bag of Meyer lemons and wanted to find a way to make something unique with them.
The history and genealogy of citrus varieties is pretty fascinating– most modern varieties are complex, crisscrossed hybrids of a few older variants. Without delving too far into that, Meyer lemons are thought to originally have been a cross between oranges and lemons, taste-wise. They’ve got the bright yellow color and some of the tartness of a regular lemon, but are a lot mellower and tend to have a sweeter, more floral taste. As a result, cooking with them requires less added sugar to balance out their acidity.
Because the Meyer lemon curd for these bars is less intense than with regular lemons, I decided to go with a slightly more robust crust than the standard shortbread used for lemon bars. Rich, buttery graham cracker-crusted pies and cheesecakes is one of my favorite things. Graham cracker flour uses the whole wheat grain, giving it a much more wholesome, grainy flavor than regular flour. I used a modified version of a shortbread crust with crushed graham crackers to make the base for these lemon bars.
Meyer Lemon Bars with Graham Cracker Crust
Lemon curd adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Lemon Bars
Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients
- 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 9 crackers)
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
Meyer Lemon Curd Ingredients
- 2/3 cup Meyer lemon juice (3-4 large Meyer lemons)
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 tsp grated Meyer lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
- 2/3 cup flour
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- For the crust: To make graham cracker crumbs, either pulse the graham crackers in a food processor, or place in a sturdy (freezer-style) Ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin until pulverized. Combine graham cracker crumbs, flour and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar together until smooth, then add graham cracker mixture. Mix until combined.
- Turn dough onto a piece of wax paper or parchment paper and shape into a flattened disc, then place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13″ pan with butter, then press the dough into the pan, pressing up the sides to form a 1/2″ lip around the edges. Stick in the fridge for a few more minutes while the oven in preheating.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on!
- For the custard: Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, flour and eggs in a bowl and beat until well combined.
- Pour custard over cooled crust carefully.
- Return to oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, about 5 minutes beyond the point where the custard is set in the middle.
- Cool on a wire rack, and dust with powdered sugar before serving. Note: I noticed that my powdered sugar essentially melted into the bars after a day, so if presentation is super-important, wait until just before serving to dust the bars with sugar.