My brother-in-law turned 30 this weekend.
His lovely wife decided to throw him a big party that involved all of this favorite things; bean bags, meat, chips, bars and friends.
She succeeded. The party was a huge success and a ton of fun – even if I did not win the bean bag tournament.
Brette and I were in charge of desserts. Brette made his now famous brown butter chocolate chip cookies (I think that will be a future post if he agrees) and I made brownies and my brother-in-law’s favorite butter bars caramel bars. Because we had so much chocolate, I thought I’d mix it up and make some lemon bars from my new Ellie Krieger cookbook, So Easy.
I was drawn to these bars because I love lemon and they were a no-bake recipe I could put together while my brownies were in the oven. The recipe was pretty straightforward and I followed it exactly. However, somewhere along the way, something went very very wrong. I’m pretty sure it had to do with the gelatin. Okay, I know it did.
First, take a look at the recipe:
No-Cook Lemon Bars
From So Easy by Ellie Krieger
14 whole-grain graham cracker squares
2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1, 8 oz. pacakage Neufchatel cheese, softened at room temperature
1, 14 oz. can fat-free sweetened condensed milk – I used regular, but I don’t think that was my problem.
1/4 c. pasteurized egg product (egg beaters)
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp. powdered gelatin
3 Tbsp. boiling water
Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until crumbs are formed. Add the butter, brown sugar, and salt and pulse until crumbs resemble wet sand. Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and pack the crumbs firmly into the bottom of it. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, condensed milk, and pasteurized egg product and beat on high with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest and beat until fully incorporated, another 30 seconds. In a small bowl, combine the gelatin and boiling water and whisk until the gelatin is entirely dissolved; let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir the gelatin into the cream cheese mixture until incorporated. Pour the filling over the crust. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Slice into 2-inch squares using a chilled knife coated with cooking spray.
It doesn’t sound difficult, does it?
Here is where things went bad:
I dissolved and whisked the gelatin as instructed. I let it cool for a couple of minutes. I added it to my mixture and started stirring. I noticed I was creating some stringiness – it literally looked like I was pulling shoelaces out of my batter. Can someone tell me how that happens and how to avoid it?
At the time, I decided to ignore it, finish the recipe and hoped it would work it’s magic overnight in the fridge.
No such luck.
When I took the pan out to cut the bars, here’s what happened:
It was essentially lemon soup with some strings mixed in.The flavor of the soupy bars was good, but I did not want to serve the bars in bowls.
So, it ended up in the trash.
So, faithful readers, where did I go wrong? Was my gelatin to hot? To cold? Not dissolved enough? Did I stir to much? Not enough?
I’ve never worked with gelatin before. In fact, I’ve never made a successful batch of jello. I’m thinking I should just avoid the stuff all together and stick to what I know.
Please – let me know your thoughts!
The good news is, the other desserts were a huge hit and no one asked for a lemon bar.