Last weekend we got together with a bunch of friends from work to watch movies and share a potluck dinner, partly as a farewell to Jeremy for the fall semester. It was my job to bring desserts, and I agonized long and hard over what to bring, changing my mind several times. I didn’t settle on my menu until we were at the grocery store.
First I made a coconut-topped chocolate cake from Cooking Light. It uses a modified cake mix, and covers it with a layer of coconut goo and then a layer of thick chocolate glaze, akin to a thinly-spread Mounds candy bar. It was delicious and very fluffy, despite the fact that the cake used only egg whites and almost no oil. Actually, it was so fluffy that it was hard to cut cleanly, so we didn’t get any decent photos. But it’s definitely on the list to make again, so I’m sure there will be other photo opportunities. 🙂
Next, I made a batch each of lemon and lime bars, at Jeremy’s request. Well, he requested lemon bars and I decided to get fancy. Good thing too, because everyone seemed to prefer the lime bars. I had two different sized square pans, so the bars came out different sizes, as you can see. Next time I use the 9×9 pan, I will probably increase the amount of filling.
I added some dessicated coconut to the shortbread crust of the lime bars, which was a nice subtle compliment; and I put a generous sprinkle of green decorating sugar into the filling, to better ensure that we could tell them apart from the lemon ones. (I didn’t have food coloring, and this was a perfect substitute.)
Finally, I made a batch of soft sourdough pretzels to munch on during the movie. These were an out-and-out success, and seem to be perfect potluck fare to compliment a cheese/crackers/veggies snack course.
I made the dough the night before, after letting my fed starter bubble most of the day, and put it in the fridge to retard overnight. Early in the morning, I pulled it out to warm and rise, so the dough was ready to roll and shape by midmorning. This was best done in several stages of stretching, so that the dough had time to relax in between. When shaped, I brushed them with egg wash and sprinkled with kosher salt, then into the oven.
I should also mention that Jeremy’s contribution to the potluck was a 64oz. container of perfectly brewed loose-leaf Casablanca Twist (spring darjeeling and peppermint) iced tea. Yum!
Lemon (or Lime) Bars
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C confectioners’ sugar
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C white sugar
2 T all-purpose flour
3 T fresh lemon juice (or lime juice) – about one squeezed lemon or lime
1-2 tsp minced lemon zest (or lime zest)
3 T dessicated unsweetened coconut (for lime bars only)
confectioners’ sugar for decoration
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.
Combine the flour, 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, and butter. For lime bars, mix in dessicated coconut. Pat dough into prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven, until slightly golden.
While the crust is baking, beat together eggs and sugar; stir in lemon (or lime) juice and zest, then fold in flour. (If desired, add a drop or two of green food coloring to lime filling.) Pour this mixture over the hot crust. Return to the preheated oven for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until filling is set.
Cool on a wire rack. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into squares when chilled.
Notes: This recipe produces a thin sugary crust on top of the bars, so the powdered sugar decoration doesn’t get absorbed into the filling. When making both types of bars at once, I doubled the crust mixture, and then added the coconut to just half. While the crusts baked, I made the fillings one at a time so they were both ready to pour when the crust was done.
This is a recipe I was tweaking all summer, so I want to try to get the right amount of filling for a 9×9 pan in my next batch.