Lemon bars were one of the first things I baked -- from a box, of course, and I’ve repressed the exact procedure. Was it curd on top, or some sort of cornstarchy-sludge? Did I make it, or did I squeeze it out of a baggie?
It took me years to figure out that lemon bars aren’t hard to make at all. You probably have all the ingredients right now: flour, sugar, butter, and lemons. But for the best lemon bars, you need a lot of lemons.
I’ve experimented with other flavors: lime, lemon-grapefruit, and now this: a pomegranate lemon bar. I like the berried base that underpins this dessert. Citrus is a top-note flavor, while pomegranate is a mustier, base note player.
Plus, pomegranates are often on my mind so I had to incorporate them into a recipe. There’s a pomegranate on the cover of Food Whore but pomegranates don’t appear in the text of the book. Not once.
So why did I suggest a pomegranate for the cover? Well, they’re juicy, luscious, sexy -- all things I wanted my book to be. Not really in terms of scenes (don’t get your hopes up for back-to-back sex scenes), but more on a sentence level. Sentences can move with a sensual quality.
Also, I summoned some middle school Latin and loved the connection to Persephone and Hades. Do you remember that story? Basically, Hades tricks Persephone into eating a couple pomegranate seeds, sentencing her to a life in the underworld. Because of her love of food, she makes a deal with the devil.
And that… the pomegranate… is basically my book.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bring 1 cup of pomegranate juice to a simmer and reduce on low for ten minutes. Turn off heat and let cool.
In an electric mixer, cream 2 sticks of room-temperature butter and ½ cup of granulated sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups of flour and ⅛ teaspoon of kosher salt. Slowly add to the mixer on low until just incorporated. Remove dough and roll into a ball on a well-floured surface. Press onto a 9” x 13” baking sheet, then chill for 15 minutes.
Poke holes into the dough with a fork (so it doesn’t bubble up), then bake for 15-20 minutes until very lightly browned (keep in mind that it will get baked again with the curd, so no need to go all the way now).
For the filling, whisk 6 extra-large room temperature eggs, 3 cups of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon zest, ¾ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, ¼ cup of the reduced pomegranate juice, and 1 cup of flour. Pour over the crust, then bake for 35-40 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into squares (or triangles if that’s your fancy). In a food processor, powder ⅓ cup of dehydrated strawberries. Sprinkle on top with powdered sugar.