In my humble opinion, I think that winter - especially dark, gray, gloomy ones - should be divided into multiple seasons based on the fruits and vegetables that are at their peak. Wouldn't this make the months go by faster, always having something delicious to look forward to? Some suggestions might be: Succulent Satsuma Mandarin Season, Greatest Grapefruit Season, Sweetest Broccoli Season and there should definitely be a Meyer Lemon Season.
I’ve already gushed on this blog about how much I love Meyer lemons and the foods made from them: Meyer Lemon Layer Cake, Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade, even a simple salad dressing of Meyer lemon juice and olive oil somehow brings the dish from humble to exquisite. These tangy, orangey, almost-but-not-quite sweet little beauties are something that I look forward to every year, relying on their Spring-like flavor to get me through the winter. Somehow, the contrast of that bright, golden yellow peel (somehow brighter and more orange than the pale skins of normal lemons) against the gray backdrop of rainy Oregon weather makes it bearable to stay inside so much.
While I was in Colorado for Christmas (a place blessed with winters full of sunshine as well as snow), my family roamed around the desert tasting the wines of the region and I found myself falling into my usual wine-tasting trap. It’s the same story every year: we start drinking and the competition begins...it’s me, and my pocketbook, against the Marketing Guru who first decided to line up gourmet food items along the shelves of various wineries. Unfortunately for me, he or she always wins and I come home with a few jars of something yummy-sounding (It must be the alcohol?! Damn!).
This year I came home with a Meyer Lemon Spread and a jar of Caribbean Rum Caramel Sauce. The caramel will top a bread pudding later on or perhaps go into a batch of ice cream with candied pecans. The Meyer lemon spread ended up in some Coconut-topped Meyer Lemon Bars this weekend. The bars got rave reviews from the male football-watching contingent taking over my couches last Sunday (oh, there's nothing like feeding a bunch of hungry men who have been busy watching football all afternoon and are more than happy to be offered any kind of snack - a great ego booster). However, the spread was a bit sweet for my tastes – I like my lemon bars a little more tart and tangy. Next time, I’ll be using the Meyer lemon curd that is already in my repertoire, and I can already imagine that sunshiny yellow curd (the spread had only a pale yellow color) sandwiched between soft, sugar cookie-like crust and crumbly coconut-scented topping washing the winter away.
Coconut-topped Meyer Lemon Bars, makes 16 bars
inspired from a little recipe attached to the spread
**I made these with whole-wheat pastry flour, just because I could, and while you can certainly use all-purpose flour, the taste of these little bars was not compromised – so, why not? The recipe is an amalgam of a few recipes for lemon bars, modified for my tastes and to boost the flavor of them. As always, use the most high-quality ingredients you can afford, and you’ll be rewarded with high-quality taste.
½ cup powdered sugar
10 tbsp cold unsalted sweet cream butter, cut into cubes
1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. Meyer lemon zest
pinch of salt
6 oz. Meyer lemon curd (recipe here)
**Remember, leftovers of lemon curd are never a bad thing! Try these.
1 cup grated coconut (with the tang of the curd, use sweetened or add a little sugar to the mix )
3 tbsp. cold unsalted sweet cream butter, cut into cubes
1 ½ tsp. good vanilla extract
2 tbsp. whole-wheat pastry flour
Preheat your oven to 325F. Cover the bottom and sides of an 8” square pan with parchment paper. Combine the sugar, butter, zest, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles a fine meal. Dump the meal into the prepared pan and press it down with your fingers along the bottom of the pan to form the crust. Bake for 30 minutes or until a light golden brown. Let cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300F. Spread Meyer lemon curd evenly on the on the crust. Combine coconut, remaining butter and vanilla extract in the food processor (no need to clean it) and pulse several times. Then add the 2 tbsp flour and pulse a few more times until it becomes crumbly. Sprinkle this on top of the meyer lemon curd, then bake the bars for 20 minutes. Let cool, remove by lifting the parchment paper, then cut into 16 squares.