Bright, sharp and tart lemon curd sits between a crumbly oreo crust and a smooth dark chocolate ganache. The unlikely duo you didn’t know you needed.
Lemon & Chocolate for Dessert
I know it’s not a common combination but I must tell you, if you have never tried lemon curd with chocolate you are missing out. I was convinced a few years back when I made this chocolate lemon tart and couldn’t believe how good the two were together. It stayed in the back of my mind, hanging out, until earlier this winter when I decided to create something with that combination in mind.
Hear me out: the lemon curd is bright and sharp, tart and super sweet. Dark chocolate ganache, earthy and unsweetened is mellow but decadent. I can’t explain it, they just go together SO WELL. You just have to try it.
How to make curd ganache bars
First you’ll prep your pan and combine the crust ingredients. There’s two baking sessions for the bars: the first is to set the crust, the second is to set the curd. For time efficiency we’ll have the curd cooking, prepared to go onto the crust and into the oven while the crust is in the oven. The ganache goes on later, much later. Okay let’s break this down:
Prepare the pan and press in the mixed crust ingredients.
Begin cooking the curd and set the crust in the oven to bake for 10.
If you’ve timed everything right, the curd should be done right around when the crust is done baking.
Pour the curd over the crust and return it to the oven to set.
The lemon bars chill in the fridge for at least a few hours or overnight
Make the ganache and pour over chilled bars.
How to make a balanced, firm cookie crust
When I use oreos, I always remove the cream first. There’s enough sugar in the cookie itself that it doesn’t need it. There’s also added butter in the cream which will make the crust oily. If you choose to keep the cream in, reduce the amount of butter listed.
Also, in case you are using a different cookie or a different chocolate sandwich cookie (I use the whole foods brand) I list the ingredients in crumbs not number of cookies. The ratio works well like this, no matter what cookie you end up using
Last, not all recipes ask you to pre-bake the crust but it’s always extra crumbly if you don’t. It will bake a bit more once the curd is on top but the moisture from the curd will prevent it from fully setting, so we pre-bake.
How to make a smooth, tart lemon curd
There are a ton of lemon curd recipes out there, I wont’ be offended if you use a different one than mine (Ina’s is a dream imo). But, of course I have opinions on how a curd should be made so here’s a few things to keep in mind:
Rub the zest into the sugar. This helps release the oils in the zest and imparts a stronger lemon flavor.
Either make it by beating together the sugar & butter together or add the butter slowly, after the curd has thickened in the pot. I used to make it by beating, but after reading this article I’ve begun incorporating the butter later.
IF you do use a recipe different than mine, be sure it’s the kind that will ‘set’ in the oven. Some recipes are designed to sit in jars in the fridge and be spreadable. That’s not what we want here!
Perfect chocolate ganache
I have a historically turbulent relationship with ganache. But, set aside a few mishaps now and then, we have gotten to a point where I understand what it needs in order for it to behave. Here’s some tips:
If you are using chocolate chips, use a really good quality. The new line of 72% chips from trader joes is just wonderful. I like these dark ones from Guittard or these artisan chips from nestle. Chocolate feves would also work well here.
If you are using a chocolate bar, chop it VERY finely. The more evenly and quicker the chocolate melts, the surer success you’ll have.
The heavy cream needs to be warm enough to melt the chocolate but it should not boil or it will burn the chocolate. You’ll see it bubbling on the sides but touch it to be sure it’s heated in the middle too.
How do I know if I’ve broken my ganache?
It will look oily, and this will have happened only if you’ve overheated the heavy cream and burned the chocolate.
What if the chocolate isn’t smoothing out and I still have big pieces of chocolate?
The cream wasn’t heated enough or the chocolate wasn’t evenly chopped. You can try heating the ganache just a bit to help the rest of the chocolate melt but this is a very delicate endeavor and you may end up burning it. If it’s only a few pieces, I’d strain the ganache. If you think you’d like to try heating it, do it in a bowl over gently simmering water.
An alternative to the lemon layer: raspberry ganache bars
If you cannot possibly be convinced to eat lemon and chocolate together then you can instead make this raspberry filling for the bars. I tried it and it worked like a charm (see pics below!). The raspberry filling is also easier: you’ll combine all the ingredients in a bowl, strain, then pour over the crust and cook.
Recipe for Lemon Curd Ganache Bars
Lemon Curd Ganache Bars
Bright tart lemon curd sits between an oreo crust and a smooth dark chocolate ganache. The unlikely duo you didn't know you needed.
5ozdark chocolatechopped or good quality chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8×8 inch square pan with parchment paper on both sides (to make a + sign, this is for easier lifting).
Melt the butter and combine with the cookie crumbs. Press it into the bottom of the parchment lined pan, it doesn’t need to go up the sides, just the bottom. Use a measuring cup to tightly pack the crumbs into one layer.
Prep the lemon curd ingredients before the crust goes into the oven: set mesh sieve over heatproof bowl. Whisk together the sugar, lemon juice, eggs, yolks, zest, salt and starch in a pot. Set the pot over medium heat.
Set the crust in the oven for 10 minutes. While it’s baking, continue whisking the lemon curd as the sugar dissolves and the curd thickens. Once it covers the back of a spoon add the butter by dropping a tablespoon at a time, and whisking it in. Once all the butter is incorporated and you have a smooth, shiny thick curd, pour it through the mesh sieve.
Once the crust has baked for ten minutes, pour the lemon curd over it and return to the oven for about 10 minutes, until it has set (jiggle the pan to test it).
Let the curd cool at room temperature then in the fridge overnight.
To make the ganache: set the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and keep a wooden spoon or rubber spatula nearby. Warm the heavy cream in a small pot for a few minutes, until you see the heavy cream bubbling at the sides and it’s hot to touch. Pour it over the chocolate and give it a quick stir to coat all the chocolate. After 30 seconds, stir it until you have a smooth shiny ganache. Pour the ganache over the chilled lemon bars and let set in the fridge for 30 minutes.