Lemon aid: A Meyer fruit adds freshness to dessert

Meyer Lemon Bars by Nikki Overfelt.

One of my new favorite fruits to bake with is Meyer lemons … when I can find them. But more on that later.

I first discovered them in February when shopping for regular lemons for a cupcake recipe. I had seen them used in a few recipes before but never knew what they were until I read the package.

They are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or regular orange, which makes them sweeter than regular lemons. I decided to try them, and I loved the result. So I thought about what other recipes I could use them in.

I have a lemon bar recipe that’s a staple in my baking repertoire that I thought would be perfect for these lemons. When I lived in Duluth, Minn., I bought a little book called “Easy Classic Desserts” by Sheryn R. Jones. And I’m pretty sure her lemon bar recipe is the only thing I’ve made out of it. But if you were to choose only one, this one is a good one.

I don’t want to hype it too much, but I have been told by people on several occasions that it’s the best lemon bar they’ve ever had. This isn’t your normal lemon bar. Before I made this recipe, I thought of lemon bars as the yellow, gooey lemon filling on top of a pastry crust, which is then sprinkled with powdered sugar. Not that I don’t like those.

But these are quite different. They are a creamy lemon filling sandwiched between two layers of an oat, sugar crumble. The first time I made this recipe, I thought maybe I’d messed up the measurements because the lemon filling layer was very thin, but that’s the beauty of them. They aren’t too overpowering. And this recipe is so simple and quick. Perfect for entertaining or taking to a pot luck or a bake sale.

The last time I made lemon bars, probably about three weeks ago, I had a few leftover Meyer lemons in my fridge, so I decided to use them. I loved the result. And I probably ate half of the pan by myself.

But when it came time to make these this week, I couldn’t find any at Checkers. The sign was there, but they were out. And Checkers is the only place I’ve seen them.

Turns out April is the end of Meyer lemon season, which starts in December. Oops. I was all excited to share this recipe and the beauty of Meyer lemons, and then I waited too long.

But let’s not think of it like that. Let’s just say I’m giving you a heads-up for next season. In the meantime, you can test out the recipe with regular lemon juice.

Meyer Lemon Bars

3/4 cup of butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup oats

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice

In mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add flour, baking powder, salt and oats. Beat until mixture is crumbly. Spread half of the mixture in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, pat down and set remaining mixture aside. In a separate bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour over crumbs in pan and cover with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool at room temperature, cut into squares and chill.

— Recipe adapted from Easy Classic Desserts

Roll recipe update

Thanks to readers Bonnie Briscoe, Marjorie Gronniger and Donna Cumley for coming to my rescue with my grandma’s roll recipe. I put in too much shortening. It should be 1/2 cup instead of 2 cups. Big difference. The funny thing is that my aunt went back and checked my grandma’s recipe. It turns out it did say 1/2. There was a crumb covering up the 1.