Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Giddy with Glee: Strawberry Lemonade Bars

Every Tuesday night, David and I host a Glee party, when our friends come over to our apartment to watch Glee and eat dessert.  Glee is far from our favorite show, but it's definitely a show that's better when you watch it with friends.  Even at it's most tonally inconsistent, the show is a lot of fun to watch, and last night was no exception.  The theme last night was "theatricality", which, in the eyes of the show, is synonymous with Lady Gaga. Even though I dislike the show's weekly themes (they usually lead to after-school-special moments, and the characters say the title of the episode every five seconds), I love Lady Gaga songs, even though I sometimes have a hard time admitting it to my friends.  Don't judge me - they're really catchy!

I try to test out a new dessert every Glee night, mostly so I can get honest feedback. My friends aren't afraid to tell me when a dessert is "just okay", or if a cookie is too cakey or too sweet.  Yesterday afternoon, I was having trouble deciding what I should make for Glee night.  Luckily, the first thing I spotted when I walked into the grocery store was a display of strawberries for 99 cents a carton (apparently, they were super cheap all over. It's officially strawberry season, guys). As soon as I saw them, I knew exactly what I wanted to make: Strawberry Lemonade Bars.  I had seen the recipe on Baking Bites last fall and had been itching to make them ever since, but wanted to wait until strawberries were in season.

These strawberry lemonade bars are essentially lemon bars with strawberry puree added. They are the perfect blend of sweet and tart, and trust me when I say that they are addictive. They remind me a lot of the strawberry lemonade at Souplantation (or Sweet Tomatoes, depending on where you live).  These bars are super fast and simple to make if you have a blender or food processor - but even if you don't, they're well worth the extra effort.  You can eat them cold or at room temperature, but I prefer to eat them after they've been in the fridge overnight.  Next time, I might double up on the crust - not because I think the ratio was off, but just because I really, really liked the crust.  And really, what more of a reason do you need?

Strawberry-Lemonade Bars
Adapted from Baking Bites

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup fresh lemon juice
2-3 tsp lemon zest (I zested two small lemons and got about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup pureed strawberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan.

Make your crust first.  Cream butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Mix in flour and salt until crumbly.  Press into pan in an even layer.  Bake for 17 minutes.

While your crust is baking, make the filling.  Combine lemon  juice, zest, strawberries, sugar, and eggs in a blender.  Blend until combined.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt, and blend until combined.  Pour filling into baked crust.  Bake for 23 - 26 minutes until filling is set.

Cool completely before cutting.  Store in the refrigerator.

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