Crystal Palace Lemon Bars (Sort of)…

My attempt to make the lemon bars from the Crystal Palace was quite the adventure.  While dining at the restaurant for lunch and dinner, you may be lucky enough to find their delicious lemon bars on the buffet… 

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I love a good, tart lemon bar, so I was excited when I found that someone on the internet had been given the recipe from their server at the Crystal Palace.   However, I looked at the recipe with skepticism, because it sounded a bit off… but if it was from the actual recipe from the restaurant it had to be right, right?   Well, part of this blog is to show my failures at cooking Disney recipes and this was one big failure.   The bars’ crust seemed ok, but the filling was weird.  It called for a ton of butter, which just melted down in the oven.  It was a big, liquidy-oily mess and never transformed into yummy lemon bars.

Oh no….

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But now I had a hankering for lemon bars, so I found a promising recipe by Barefoot Contessa, which I will demonstrate here. 

Here are the ingredients.

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First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixer,  cream together the butter and sugar until light.  Then, with the mixer on low, add the flour and salt until just combined. 

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Scoop the dough out onto a floured board and (with floured hands) press it into a 9x13x2 inch baking sheet.  Then chill for 15 minutes.  Since I was baking in a glass dish, and I worry about putting a chilled dish into a preheated oven, I chilled the dough ball for 15 minutes first, and then pressed the dough into the dish and put it into the oven. 

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Bake the crust for 15 – 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Let cool.

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 In the meantime, make the filling.   Wait until the crust is already cooled to start the filling because if you mix the lemon and the eggs too early, the mixture could start to curdle. 

Whisk together the eggs and sugar…  

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Then add the lemon zest…

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Then the lemon juice…

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… and the flour.

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Pour the lemon mixture over the cooled crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, until set. 

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Let cool and then dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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Then you can enjoy your delicious sweet and sour treat… yum!

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These are even better once chilled for a bit, since they set up and the filling gets a bit more firm.

This recipe states that it is 12 servings, but I think 24 is more realistic… they are very good, but very rich.   The smaller serving is just enough. 

This lemon bar recipe didn’t exactly recreate the bars at the Crystal Palace (the shortbread crust was similar, but the filling was a bit softer and had a stronger lemon flavor), but it is a good recipe when you have a craving for a lemon bar. 

Do you like lemon desserts or do you prefer chocolate desserts?

 

Crystal Palace Lemon Bars (Sort of)
Serves 24
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For the crust
  1. 1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 2 cups flour
  4. 1/8 tsp kosher salt
For the filling
  1. 6 large eggs, room temperature
  2. 3 cups granulated sugar
  3. 2 tbs grated lemon zest (about 6 lemons)
  4. 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  5. 1 cup flour
  6. Confectioners' sugar
Instructions
  1. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light. Then, with the mixer on low, add the flour and salt until just combined.
  2. Scoop the dough out onto a floured board and (with floured hands) press it into a 9x13x2 inch baking sheet. Then chill for 15 minutes. Since I was baking in a glass dish, and I worry about putting a chilled dish into a preheated oven, I chilled the dough ball for 15 minutes first, and then pressed the dough into the dish and put it into the oven.
  3. Bake the crust for 15 - 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool.
  4. In the meantime, make the filling.
  5. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. Pour over the cooled crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, until set. Let cool and then dust with confectioners' sugar.
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One of my all-time favorite Disney foods is the Crystal Palace Puffed French Toast.  This Disney recipe really brings back memories and makes me feel like I am in the Magic Kingdom!  On my childhood trips to Walt Disney World, my family would always stop by the Crystal Palace to eat a delicious breakfast.  Back then (yes, I’m dating myself!), it was a cafeteria-style restaurant with no Characters present.   I just remember the beautiful setting, the birds flying inside the restaurant AND the super  delicious Puffed French Toast. 

The Puffed French Toast can still be found at the Crystal Palace (now a fun buffet with Winnie the Pooh and Friends), but it has now been miniturized and placed at the children’s buffet station.  But I’m not shy and have no problem eating from the kid’s table!  The french toast is still super crispy (deep fried!) and doughy and sweet with cinnamon sugar.  So wonderfully decadant! 

Here is a picture of the actual Crystal Palace Puffed French Toast in Walt Disney World.

CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast

Here is a picture of the ingredients I used…

CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast

 

Yes, that is an episode of Friends on my tv in the background. I can’t resist a good Friends repeat! 

First, I cut the bread into thick slices.  Texas Toast would be best, but my grocery store didn’t have any (or even any bakery white bread that I could cut into think slices), so I bought a loaf of Italian bread.  I knew I was using it for french toast, so I bought it from the day-old bread section since I was going to want it a bit stale anyway.  Stale bread soaks in the custard much better and won’t fall apart like fresh bread in the egg mixture.  I didn’t cut the crusts off, but it might be a good idea if your bread has a tough, crispy crust.

CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast

In a large bowl, I mixed together 2 eggs, 2 1/2 Tbs sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
 
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Then I added 2 cups milk.  Next, I gradually whisked in 1 cup of flour and 2 1/2 tsp baking powder.  Mix until it is smooth.

 CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast

In a shallow dish, combine 4 tsp cinnamon with 3/4 cup sugar and set aside.
 
CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast
 
Place a few slices of bread in the custard and let it sit a few minutes to soak up some creamy goodness.  Meanwhile, heat up about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a pan (I used my cast iron skillet).
 
CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast
 
When you think that your oil is hot enough, take your soaked bread pieces (let any excess batter drip off) and carefully place them in the hot oil.  I used tongs to make sure didn’t splatter any oil and they made it easy to carefully flip them over.  Only cook a few pieces at a time… if you crowd the pan the oil will drop in temperature.
 
 CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast
 
CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast
 
 
When they are golden brown on both sides, place them on a plate covered in paper towels (which will soak up some of the excess oil).
 
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While they are still warm, coat them in the cinnamon sugar topping.  Really press them into the sugar and get a nice coating… this is the good stuff!  Get the sides too.  I did this with my hands, but since they are pretty warm you may want to use forks or spoons to coat them.
 
CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast
 
CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast
 
And that’s pretty much it!  If you are feeding a crowd and want to serve all the pieces at once you may want to keep the french toast warm in a low oven while you continue cooking.  
 
Here is the final result!
 
CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast
 
CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast
 
Let’s just go crazy and add butter and maple syrup.

CrystalPalacePuffedFrenchToast

This certainly doesn’t need syrup, but I love the thick, super-sweet magic that happens when that cinnamon coating mixes with the maple syrup.  I guess it brings back those childhood Disney memories.  My husband prefers it without butter and syrup and says it tastes like a yummy churro.

I hope you make this Disney recipe soon… and let me know what you think!

Crystal Palace Puffed French Toast
Serves 6
A delicious replica of the Puffed French Toast found at Walt Disney World's Crystal Palace restaurant
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Ingredients
  1. 12 Slices of Thick White Bread (like Texas Toast)
  2. 2 Eggs
  3. 2 1/2 Tbs. Sugar
  4. 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  5. 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  6. 2 Cups Milk
  7. 1 Cup Flour
  8. 2 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  9. 4 Tsp. Cinnamon
  10. 3/4 Cup Sugar
  11. Vegetable Oil
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, 2 1/2 Tbs. sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and milk.
  2. Gradually mix the flour and baking powder into the wet ingredients. Stir until combined.
  3. In a shallow, wide dish, combine the cinnamon and 3/4 cups sugar. Set aside.
  4. Soak a few slices of bread in the custard mixture as you heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a pan.
  5. When the oil is hot, carefully place a few slices of soaked bread into the pan (replace the bread with additional slices to soak in the custard). Be careful not to crowd the pan, as the oil temperature will drop. When the bottom of the toasts are golden (take a peek, using some tongs), flip the pieces over to continue cooking.
  6. When the toast pieces are golden, place on a plate covered in paper towels to blot some excess oil.
  7. While still warm, dip the french toast into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Make sure to really coat every bit of the french toast.
  8. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup, if desired.
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