Earl Grey Lemon Bars

I know I recently complained about the New Year Resolutioners that crowd my gym every January, and I’m glad to finally be able to say it’s become a little more normal.  Now that I can finally work out relatively in peace, I’ve been trying to figure out some ways to mix up my routine because it’s becoming… well… routine.  One can only do weights and cardio on a treadmill or elliptical so many times in one week.

I like to intersperse my regular workouts with group exercise classes and have tried almost every single one 24 Hour Fitness has to offer.  I’ve tried Zumba and kick-boxing, but all of the stomping around was really hard on my knees.  I am also terrible at Zumba.  I’m not a quitter when it comes to exercise, but I tried spin once with a coworker, got through 20 minutes of class, mouthed “I can’t feel my crotch!” to each other, and walked out together. Who the hell does spin class?  I mean, are your lady parts made out of leather? How do you deal with that?  Should I have lined the seat of my pants with bubble wrap?  Now I understand why men don’t do spin.

Pilates and yoga are fine, as is this Nike-sponsored “athletic training” class that my gym offers.  But still over a year later, nothing beats The Bar Method in my book despite my self-induced embarassing first experience.  It really is my favorite workout class, but I can’t justify the steep per-class pricepoint for something I’d want to do at least 4 times a week.  However, I just bought the complete set of DVDs, so we’ll see how that goes.

On the topic of breaking routines, I’ve been writing way too many updates about cookies lately, which basically means I’ve been making too many cookies.  Sadly I have a few more cookie posts backlogged on top of a couple more holiday posts!  Yikes!  So, in the spirit of mixing things up, here’s an update on an Earl Grey Lemon Bar I made last month.  I came across the recipe in the June 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine, and have been saving it for an occasion such as… nothing.  I guess I made these just for fun.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces

Filling:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  To prepare crust, line an 8-inch square metal baking pan with foil that extends 2 inches beyond sides; coat foil with cooking spray. Weigh or lightly spoon 1 1/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon tea leaves from 1 tea bag (discard remaining tea in bag), and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 19 minutes or until lightly browned.

Flour, Earl Grey Tea Leaves, Powdered Sugar, Salt
Flour, Earl Grey Tea Leaves, Powdered Sugar, Salt

2.  To prepare filling, place juice in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds. Add remaining 1 tea bag to juice; cover and steep 10 minutes. Squeeze juice from tea bag into bowl; discard tea bag. Combine granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and baking powder in a bowl. Add rind and eggs to juice; stir with a whisk until combined. Add sugar mixture to juice mixture; stir with a whisk until well combined.

Earl Grey Tea Steeped in Lemon Juice
Earl Grey Tea Steeped in Lemon Juice

3.  Remove crust from oven; pour filling onto hot crust. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pan by lifting foil. Remove foil, and cut into 16 bars. Sprinkle bars with powdered sugar.

Earl Grey Lemon Bar
Earl Grey Lemon Bar

The Earl Grey cut some of the tartness of the lemon bar, and gave it a great scent.  I think the crust was a little softer than what I personally would prefer.  If I made these again, I would probably incorporate the Earl Grey tea leaves into a firmer lemon bar crust!

Raspberry Coconut Oatmeal Bars

I recently reformatted my computer all by myself (+10 geek squad points!) and ended up using these to pay off a friend who got me Microsoft Office and a couple of clutch photo editing programs (Photoshop and Lightroom, here I come!).  Thanks, Jay!

Raspberry Coconut Oatmeal Bar

I randomly came across the recipe while perusing the interwebs and thought it sounded good.  I noticed that the recipe called for a food processor to mix the dry ingredients together, as well as a dough blender to blend the butter and dry ingredients together – neither of which I had.  I never needed to make a crust this way before, and had only ever used Jay’s dough blender to make guacamole (it’s REALLY great for guacamole).  Not having that or the food processor didn’t stop me – I figured I could do it all by hand by… furiously stirring a fork.  I got the dry ingredients taken care of just fine, but the dough blending became challenging once the butter came into play.

I Needed a Dough Blender

After making the crust for these bars with a fork, acquiring a dough blender is now at the top of my to-buy list.  The fork method was tedious to say the least.

Out of the Oven Cross-Section

I’ll be able to actually have some pretty pictures soon using something better than Microsoft Office Picture Manager!  For now, you’ll have to deal with what I got in the gallery here: