Thursday, December 31, 2009

CEiMB - Half Baked Lemon Bars

I'll admit, I've been a baaad Ellie-ista. It's been weeks since I've participated in Craving Ellie in My Belly, and judging by how my jeans are fitting, that's not a good thing.

So when Amy of Playing House selected Ellie's No-Bake Lemon Bars for this week's Craving Ellie in My Belly post, I resolved to make the recipe. I even intended to make it as written. Then something went terribly wrong. Trader Joe's didn't have plain graham crackers. And I was determined not to go to Safeway. So I bought a container of TJ's low-fat Ginger Cat Cookies. They're like crunchy gingersnaps. I thought they'd go well with the lemon.

I had the other supplies: Cream cheese (not light), sweetened condensed milk (ditto), eggs (not Egg Beaters) and (Meyer) lemons were all ready for the recipe. I had recently made this cheesecake in the food processor, and I liked how easy it was, so I used the FP for this recipe. I just wiped it out after crushing the cookies for the crust. Speaking of the crust, I baked it for 8 minutes and let it cool before pouring the filling in. I just think a pre-baked crust is so much tastier than one that isn't.

The resulting bars were more of a dessert you eat with a spoon than pick up with your hand (unless if you froze it for, say, 20 minutes before serving). But it was tart and creamy, and the ginger crust  was perfect with the tangy lemon cream. My only problem was with the crust. Since Ellie's recipe called for 7 sheets of graham crackers, it was hard for me to figure out how many cookies to use. I used WAY too many cookies, had to add extra butter, and ended up with a bit too much crust, some of which was a little crumbly. Not to worry. Those lovely crumbs pair well with the creamy lemon to make an easy dessert. Thanks, Amy, for a fabulous find from the new cookbook!

Here's my take on the original recipe:

Half Baked Lemon Bars - adapted from So Easy by Ellie Krieger
1 cup cookie crumbs (gingersnaps, Lorna Doones, etc.)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray. Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Pat into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool on a rack while making the filling.

8 ounces of light cream cheese
14 ounce can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice (I used 2 Meyer lemons)
2 teaspoons gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water

Place gelatin and 3 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl; stir until combined and set aside.

Place cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor and process for two minutes. Scrape down bowl and add condensed milk and egg. Process for another minute, then add the lemon zest, juice and gelatin. Process for 30 seconds. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Chill for 8 hours (or overnight) before serving.

NOTE: Ellie's recipe calls for using hot water to bloom the gelatin, but hot water always gives me lumps.


Amy I. said...

Oh yay, I'm so glad you liked it! Good call using the cookies, that must have been delicious. Happy New Year, Leslie!

TeaLady said...

It looks lovely. It was pretty tasty.

I used lemon cookies for the crust.

natalia said...

This must have been such a nice change !!

Joanne said...

Great changes. I didn't use the gelatin and mine turned out to be more like "soup" but SO good - we could have cared less.

Pamela said...

As you know, I skipped this one. But I like your changes, especially the ginger cookies in the crust. YUM!

Michele said...

Yum! These look great.

Rachel said...

I thought the same thing about baking the crust...I didn't do it this time, but probably will in the future. I think it would hold together better as well as tasting better.

Unknown said...

These sound so good! I love lemon desserts so they're right up my alley. If I had graham cracker crumbs on hand I might be tempted to make them tomorrow...

Kayte said...

This looks outstandingly delicious to me! Love hearing about all the subs. I did not make this one as we were completely dessert-ed out that week. Someday. I should make your version!

Diana's Cocina said...

My family would love this!