Hessa Meets Contessa: Meyer Lemon Curd Bars Cockaigne

First the money shot:


Oh, and this:


I put those pictures at the top to attract your eye when you load up the page. You can click them and they will be larger. My name is The Amateur Gourmet and I am a food pornographer.

But wait. How did we get here? What was our journey like from flour, sugar, lemon and sweat to the glory you see above you? Let me tell you: not a pretty one.

It started prettily enough yesterday, when I was out shopping and I spotted these Meyer lemons at Whole Foods:


Meyer Lemons are one (or two) of those gourmet buzzwords that you hear often but never really respond to. By that I mean: I’ve never purchased nor eaten a Meyer lemon. I know Meyer Lemons are all the rage, and so I flipped to the back of my easily portable Mr. Latte book and found Amanda’s recipe for Lemon Curd Bars Cockaigne. I purchased 5 lemons.

Tonight, then, is when the ugliness began. Well not ugliness. Confusion.

You see, Amanda has very easy instructions for the crust. You sift together 1.5 cups of flour and .5 cup of Confectioner’s sugar. Add 12 Tbs of chopped cold butter and pinch with your fingers until it looks like peas. This I did. Then pour into a 13 X 9 inch pan and press to fill the bottom and up the sides. This I attempted. It did not work out:


There was honestly not enough dough to cover the bottom. I know it looks like if I’d spread it around more, but no. Or if it was possible, it didn’t seem possible at the time. I grew furious. I threw things. I broke a cutting board over my head.

But when life throws you Meyer Lemons, call the Barefoot Contessa. That’s what I did. I whipped out her recipe for Lemon Bars and made the crust that she calls for. This one’s easier. It involves your electric mixer. It’s butter and sugar (check) and then flour and salt. Check. Then pour into a 13 X 9 X 2 inch pan. Here’s where I made another mistake:


See the pan in the distance? That’s what I thought was a 13 X 9 X 2 inch pan. But it wasn’t. So it didn’t spread out either.

I finally realized that the pan you see on top of the sink (the one I originally attempted for Amanda) was the one the Contessa called for. So I plopped the dough in there, spread it out, baked at 350 for 25 minutes and removed it from the oven. All was finally well in doughland.

Then the rest was easy. I went back to the Hesser recipe and juiced the Meyer Lemons after zesting them. They have a lovely armoa that’s 3/4ths lemon and 1/4th orange. Whisked that with 6 eggs, sugar and flour and poured it over the crust. Baked for 30 minutes (but then longer because the top hadn’t set) and after it had cooled I had what you see at the top of this post. And if pictures truly speak louder than words, you should know they were delicious. Are delicious. I’m bringing them to school tomorrow. They are the product of a Valentine’s Day union between Hessa and Contessa–two recipes fused into one glorious lemon bar cockaigne. [Please: no cockaigne jokes.]

8 thoughts on “Hessa Meets Contessa: Meyer Lemon Curd Bars Cockaigne”

  1. Out of curiousity, how long did it end up taking to fully bake the top?

    I’ve always had trouble with this. It has never seemed done in the stated bake time in the recipe (any of the several recipes I’ve tried) and I always wonder if it will actually end up being done (continue baking til done once it’s out of the oven) if I take it out then anyway. In the end, I almost always have it in the oven for ~45 minutes..

  2. I was recently given a container meyer lemon tree as a gift from my parents. It’s sitting out on my balcony with two little green lemons. It came with a recipe card for lemon bars. I’m going to try out the recipe when/if my little lemon tree produces lemons.

  3. I have had meyer lemons in my fridge for weeks now. I keep meaning to use them in something special, but as I, too, have never tried them, I just wasn’t sure what that special thing would be. I was going to do your Lemon Sabayon Tart (even bought a tart pan). Then I was going to do Amanda Hesser’s pasta with meyer lemon and arugula, since I’ve got both of those too. But now I might make bars. Mmm, bars. I’m sure the hungry reporters at my work will be so grateful they’ll come to your blog and buy you cookbooks and click on your Google ads. Lemon bars = good karma.

  4. I’m wondering – why doesn’t Brooklyn have ANY meyer lemons whatsoever? Brooklyn has produce for dirt cheap, yet they won’t carry meyers. Oh God, why?! I’ve got to get a meyer lemon tree.

  5. Meyer lemons are blissfully wonderful things. I generally make lemon bars with them myself–I use a recipe I got out of Fine Cooking magazine which is sitting around somewhere. Anyway, it makes great lemon bars.

    As expected, they also make a great lemon tart, especially if you do one of those where you thinly slice one lemon and array it over the custard, then glaze it. Gorgeous.

  6. A Big Fan of the AG

    When I lived in the East Bay in California, my rental house had a gorgeous Meyer lemon tree in the backyard that was always full of the tangiest and juiciest lemons I had ever tasted. I’m sure that your lemon tarts are especially tarty from using the Meyers.

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