NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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December 12, 2012

Cookies with a kick

Infuse Christmas dessert with out-of-the-ordinary ingredients

Forget about those traditional recipes for snickerdoodles, anise cookies or peppermint bark that you turn to year after year. This season, why not spice up your Christmas cookie offerings with, well, common spices you’ll find in your kitchen.

If you love lemon bars, try this twist on the classic treat. We gave our bars a deliciously crumbly shortbread crust, then spiked the lemony filling with the earthy flavor of paprika. We also mixed a bit of extra paprika into the powdered sugar we sprinkle over the top. Delicious and perfectly festive.

LEMON PAPRIKA BARS

Start to finish: 1 hour (plus cooling)

Makes 24 bars

For the crust:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

21/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:

11/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons paprika, divided

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

5 eggs

1/2 cup lemon juice

Zest of 2 lemons

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper, leaving enough excess to slightly overhang 2 sides.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix just until combined. Using a silicone spatula, press the dough into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly over the surface. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the crust bakes, make the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, 11/2 teaspoons of the paprika, and the flour. Whisk in the eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest.

When the crust is done, pour the filling over the top. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 to 18 minutes, or until the filling is set. Allow to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, use the paper to gently lift the bars from the pan. Peel away and discard the paper.

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