Monday, March 28, 2011

Lemongrass Bars with Coconut Shortbread Crust

It's not often that I obsess over a dessert recipe, but I am mildly obsessed over this one.  Usually when I bake something, I have a few pieces and then happily bring the rest into work for my coworkers.  I might actually eat my way through these lemongrass bars because they are so good.  And Alex might actually go toe-to-toe with me for the last piece, which has literally never happened before.  The filling is creamy and lemony (it reminds me of a more floral/aromatic version of a lemon curd due to the addition of the lemongrass) - a little sweet and a little tart.  I don't usually like lemon bars because I find the filling to be overly sweet and goey, but this one is great.  It tastes fresh and bright, and not at all syrupy.  Not only is the filling good, but the crust is wonderfully buttery and crumbly.  I have never made a shortbread crust for a bar cookie before, but it's totally genius.  I also love the mild coconut flavor in the crust.  When we took the pan out of the oven and I really got a whiff of the fully baked dessert I knew I was in for a treat.  I knew they would be good, but I didn't realize they would be this good.

Recipe after the jump!

Lemongrass Bars with Coconut Shortbread Crust
Bon Appetit
March 2011

For crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
For filling:
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 lemongrass stalks, bottom 4 inches only, tough outer layer removed, finely chopped (scant 1/2 cup)
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2- inch metal baking pan. Using electric mixer, beat flour, coconut, powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl until well blended, 30 seconds. Add butter; beat on low speed until moist clumps form. Press dough onto bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake crust until golden (edges will be darker), about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place sugar and lemongrass in processor; pulse until lemongrass is finely ground, about 1 minute. Add lemon juice; process until well blended, about 30 seconds. Add eggs; process to blend, 10 to 15 seconds. Add flour and pinch of salt; pulse until smooth.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Pour filling over hot crust; bake until filling is firm, 22 to 23 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.

Cut lemongrass bars lengthwise into 4 strips, then crosswise into 6 pieces. Dust bars with powdered sugar and serve.

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