Yield: 48 bars

Cook’s notes: I can’t seem to stop playing with my lemon bar recipe, always searching for a better bar (without turning it into something overly complicated or precious). Here’s my latest, and I think I’m done playing for a good while: This one has the thick layer of filling and crisp crust I crave.  I like my lemon bars heavily lemony, and a bit tart; you can use the zest of just one lemon if you prefer. You can also use lemon balm instead of lemon verbena, but it has a more medicinal taste. Note that it’ll likely take more than your two lemons, unless they’re huge, to get 2/3 cup juice. If I don’t have another lemon on hand (and if I do, I’ll often toss its zest in here too), I use defrosted Minute Maid lemon juice to top off the fresh juice. I keep a bottle of the juice on hand; fresh is always better, but this juice is handy in a pinch. Look for it next to frozen juices.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably bleached flour
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
13 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup (packed) whole lemon verbena leaves
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, preferably bleached
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees for a glass or nonstick pan, or 350 degrees for all other pans.

Make crust: In a food processor, briefly whiz flour and 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar to blend. Cut butter into 13 slices and add to processor; pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (don’t overprocess). Pour into a 9-by-13-inch pan, and press gently and evenly over the bottom. Bake for 18 minutes.

While the crust bakes, make the filling: Place sugar, lemon verbena leaves and lemon zest into the food processor (no need to wash it out). Whiz until leaves are finely ground. Just before crust comes out of the oven, add flour, salt, lemon juice and eggs to processor; whiz just to combine well. Pour over hot crust and return to oven; bake 20 minutes more, until top is barely set and firm. Cool on wire rack and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

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