Monday, March 22, 2010

Looks can be deceiving

These are beautiful lemon meringue lemon bars. However, they failed in the test kitchen for a variety of reasons. Let's start with the bottom crust. I decided to try a shortbread crust rather than the traditional graham cracker crust. The lemon filling was good but I would have preferred more lemon taste and the meringue topping was just too much. After about an hour the bars (or as we are calling them - The Lemon Meringue Brownie!) started to weep - which means that moisture from the meringue started to puddle in the pan.

Here are the recipes that we used - courtesy of two Martha Stewart recipes (we mixed and matched)
Martha Stewart Creamy Lemon Squares
Lemon Meringue Bars 

We used the crust and lemon filling from the first recipe and the meringue from the second one.  When we baked the crust we found that it was fine.  But after we added the filling and baked it again it dried out.  We noticed this when we cut the brownies and found the crust hard to cut through - although the taste was fine it made for a crumbling bottom.  The recipe calls for baking the crust 15-20 minutes which we did.   When we redo this recipe we will put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to allow it to rest and bake the bottom for only 12 minutes and see if that allows for a more tender base.   For the lemon  custard part of the recipe we used three lemons and the zest of two of those lemons.  The custard was very smooth and the bits of zest added to the texture.  However, the custard was not as bright in flavor as it should be to hold up to the crust and the meringue.  I will add the juice of another lemon the next time around.  The thing that I liked about this custard is that it set really well and that is important when you are using a meringue topping.

The meringue part of the second recipe call for 4 egg whites - I will use half of that the next time.  That will be more than enough for the lemon brownies.  I will also rotate the pain in the oven halfway through the browning of the meringue.  The batch that I made was more brown in the back than in the front.

Why you might ask did I use two recipes instead of either one of the recipes.  The answer is simple - research.  Part of the development process is trying different things. 

Finished Lemon meringue bars


  1. This is really clever and interesting, good job!! those lemon bars look amazing. wish you were in ACK, Ihave a bunch of them from pruning the tree!

  2. great list. Thanks. How about the chocolate french macaron? I will be happy to test if you can send them in NYC. I'm trying my own batch this weekend. Wish me luck