Do you like traditional lemon bars? Then you'll fall head-over-heels in love with Lemon Crunch, a vintage version of the lemon bar that -- for reasons unknown -- fell out of favor or never caught on. And that is not a good thing, because these hyped-up lemon bars (the "crunch" is from toasted coconut) are simply amazing. Even colleagues who typically have just a taste of the treat du jour, came back again and again until there were none.
The original recipe card, written in pencil, is bit difficult to follow (and lacks some basic instructions), so I've modernized the recipe so home cooks today can follow it, as they did in the 1940s or 50s when this brilliant idea was probably conceived.
Get started by combining the ingredients for the crust (and topping).
Add a stick of melted butter and combine.
Press half the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8 pan which you've lined with parchment (two pieces, criss-crossed), or foil. Or you can simply grease the pan and keep your fingers crossed.
Prepare the lemon custard filling. Before you add the cold egg and lemon juice to the hot custard, "temper" the egg mixture by mixing in a bit of the hot liquid to raise its temperature. This will prevent the egg from "cooking" in the hot mixture. (But if this does happen, as it did to me, you can just strain out the bits of cooked whites by pressing the custard through a strainer.)
Adding extra lemon zest only improves the finished product.
Spread the custard atop the crust. Use an offset spatula or knife so it completely covers the base.
Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture atop the custard. Bake and enjoy!
Preheat oven to 400. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment or foil.
Prepare the base (and topping)
1 1/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
Mix first four ingredients in a bowl. Pour melted butter in and combine well. Press 1/2 the mixture into an 8 x 8 pan.
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 T cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
1 beaten egg
1 1/3 cup milk
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 t. grated lemon peel*
1 T butter
few drops of vanilla
Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in milk and cook until thick. In a separate bowl, mix together egg and lemon juice and then add to the saucepan. Cook about two minutes and then add lemon peel, butter and vanilla.
*Using more lemon peel creates a more lemony flavor.
Pour filling into pan. Take reserved topping and sprinkle over the filling. Bake for about 25 minutes. Chill before serving, but it can be served cold or at room temperature.