Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Lemon crumble bars

I've had a bit of an obsession to bake with lemons lately. And when I saw this recipe (on Pinterest, of course), I knew I just had to try it. And it's practically health food. Oats - good for you. Lemon - fruit, one of your five a day. Condensed milk - dairy, good for you, your bones need the calcium. So yes practically health food.

Condensed milk is genius. Just like cans of caramel, I can't keep cans of condensed milk at home. I can just pop one open and eat it with a spoon. Throw in strawberries or raspberries. It's gooey and sugary and nauseating and absolutely delicious. Let's just ignore that a can contains pretty much my daily calorie allowance. I also love crumble, so all these oat-y, crumbly things are right down my alley. And I think there are endless variations for these bars, replace lemon with berries or fruit, add cardamom or cinnamon or heck, go crazy and add both. I bet you could mix up small pieces of cardboard in the evaporated milk and this would still be awesome. 

The recipe is stolen pretty much unaltered (apart from the addition of vanilla sugar) from GroupRecipes.

Lemon bars (16 servings):
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

185g (1 1/4 cup) flour
95g (1 cup) oats
100g (1/2 cup) light muscovado sugar
100g (1/2 cup) butter (slightly softened) 
2 tsp vanilla sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

The howto:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Mix condensed milk with lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. The mixture will thicken a bit. Mix the rest of the ingredients in another bowl. Press half of the crumbly mixture into a square (approximately 20x20 cm) baking tin, and bake for about 10 minutes. Spoon on the condensed milk and lemon mixture, and crumble the rest of the oat mix on top. Bake for another 15-20 minutes. Let cool, and cut into 4x4 squares.
The verdict:
In case you didn't catch my enthusiasm from the intro, I loved these bars. To be honest, I particularly loved the mixture of condensed milk and lemon. I'm thinking that could make a perfect dip for strawberries or biscuits as is. And this ended up being a problem, because I sampled the mixture quite a bit before the crust was baked, so the filling layer of the bars turned out a bit too thin to my tastes. And that might be why the bars turned out to be just a tad dry. Next time I might throw in a can and a half, so that there is enough to make a really thick layer and there would be some extra to spoon straight into my mouth. Also, I could have reduced the second cooking time a few minutes, now I baked the bars for 20 minutes, but I think 15 would be enough. If you can manage to wait, the bars tasted best when completely cooled (eaten pretty much straight out of the fridge). I made these for a friend, but ended up sampling pretty much half the batch myself. I just had to make sure they were up to standards to feed to someone else. And yes, they were. 

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