The Southern Living Test Kitchen takes lemon bars to the next level
2¾ c. granulated sugar, divided
¾ c. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. lemon zest, divided
3¼ c. all-purpose flour, divided
½ tsp. table salt, divided
Vegetable cooking spray
6 large eggs
¼ c. chopped crystallized ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
⅔ c. fresh lemon juice
¼ c. butter, melted
½ c. sliced almonds
Powdered sugar for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat ¼ c. granulated sugar, butter and 1 tsp. zest at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer for 2 minutes or until creamy. Stir together 2 cups flour and ¼ tsp. salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until just blended. Coat a 13- x 9-inch pan with cooking spray. Press dough into bottom of prepared pan. Chill 15 minutes.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
3. Whisk together eggs and 2 cups sugar. Process ginger and ½ cup flour in a food processor 1 minute or until ginger is finely chopped. Stir in baking powder. Whisk ginger mixture into egg mixture. Whisk in lemon juice and remaining 2 Tbsp. lemon zest; pour over crust.
4. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is just set. Remove from oven.
5. Stir together remaining ¾ cup flour, ½ cup sugar, and ¼ tsp. salt in a small bowl. Stir in melted butter until well blended. Stir in almonds. Sprinkle over hot lemon mixture, and bake 20 to 25 more minutes or just until lightly golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cut into squares.