Over the holidays I bought myself a new cookbook. I know, I don’t need anymore cookbooks but I was in Anthropologie and it was on sale and I couldn’t resist. The cookbook is Tartine from the Tartine Bakery & Cafe in San Francisco. I had the chance to eat there when I visited back in 2007 and have since recommended the bakery to everyone that I know who passes through San Fran. So of course when I saw the cookbook on sale I couldn’t pass it up. Well I guess I could have but that would have been less fun.

I bought this while in Miami where there was little hope of me finding fabulous French-style pastries.  Needless to say I poured over this book knowing there was no hope of me satisfying my sweet tooth with no bakeries nearby and no kitchen.  Le sigh.  When I returned to Toronto, I decided to make something on my first full day back in town.  I didn’t go to the grocery store so I had to make something using ingredients that I already had.  Luckily I had everything necessary to make the lemon bars.

I enjoy lemon bars but the problem that I often run into is that the filling can be too eggy.  Eggs generally freak me out a bit so if my dessert tastes or smells overly eggy I have a hard time getting past that.  My other beef with lemon bars is generally the crust to filling ratio.  I like more filing and less crust, not the half and half split that I sometimes see.  Luckily the introduction to the recipe specifically says that this is a filling-heavy bar, so I knew I was in luck.

The other thing about the recipe that intrigued me was this “brown butter shortbread”.  I’m all for things made with brown butter.  Brown butter sauces with gnocchi, brown butter pound cake, brown butter everything!

I have to admit, these lemon bars are so easy to throw together.  No special skills or tools required.  Sure it says to use your stand mixer (which I happily did) but it’s not necessary.  There’s some pre-baking required and a substantial amount of cooling time at the end, but otherwise not a ton of active time at all.

The lemon bars turned out pretty great.  Admittedly the whole brown butter shortbread was a bit of a scam.  There is no browning of butter.  Perhaps the browning comes from pre-baking the crust but it wasn’t worthy of being called brown butter anything.  Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious but was really just crust.  The filling worked out really well.  A tad on the sweet side but sufficiently lemony and tart and firm.

I think this recipe could be a great springboard for other variations like lime bars or something involving coconut and citrus.

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14 Responses to Tartine Bakery Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread

  1. jean says:

    I’m picky about lemon bars, too and for the same reasons you mentioned. I still haven’t found my holy grail and since I have this book I’ll give this one a try. The proportions of crust to filling looks just right to me. Thanks for posting. :-)

  2. Christy says:

    I have this cookbook too! I’ve made them with macadamia nuts in the crust instead of the pine nuts and they taste wonderful. They also taste good semi-frozen. I think I’m going to have to make some tonight!

  3. polwig says:

    I love lemon bars…these look so good. I am so happy that you use pine nuts in a crust, I have never eaten a pine nut crust (that I know of).

  4. Min {Honest Vanilla} says:

    Looks absolutely lovely :) Bookmarking this in my must-try list…

  5. […] virus years ago (RIP lemon meringue pie), but I'd suffer through the mental queasiness for these lemon bars on brown butter shortbread. [What's On My […]

  6. I love, love, love, love, love lemon bars. Probably one of my all time favorite desserts!!!! I’ve never tried a crust with pine nuts before, so I’m looking forward to giving it a try!

  7. Alexandra says:

    Just made these using Pamela’s gluten free all purpose flour. They are currently setting right now. The bars in the pan don’t look 100% like the ones in the photo but they smell good and I think they will turn out okay. Might need to tweak with less flour in the filling/more yolk?

  8. Jennifer says:

    I made these, and they’re DIVINE! I am a lemon fanatic and have tried 4 other lemon bar recipes with less than stellar results. These completely hit the nail on the head. I love how much lemon filling it is, and it is very lemony. I liked the crust on one of the other 4 recipes I had made better, though, but now I just have to figure out which one it was! The crust was okay on this one (I didn’t use pine nuts), but not as sweet as one of the others I liked better. Thanks for filling the perfect lemon bar gap in my life.

  9. Alexander says:

    I have just made these and followed the recipe quite precisely other than adding some ground cardamon to the crust and substituting 1/3 of the lemon juice and zest for clementine to give it a fruitier twist. I find however that the baking time seems way off for this as my bars have been in for 40 minutes already and the filling is still liquid, I don’t know what could have caused that. . .

  10. Alexander says:

    I baked this for an extra 15 minutes but then I was amazed, this is perfect and simply delicious tangy with a beautiful and fragrant crust so it is really something to add to the repertoire of deliciousness.

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