very tangy lime or lemon bars

Makes about 16 large or 24 small bars.

Note: "One important thing is to fully bake the crust," said author Alice Medrich. "That gives you a wonderfully crunchy bottom crust." If using Meyer lemons, reduce sugar in the topping to 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons. From "Pure Desserts" (Artisan, $35).

For crust:

• 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

• 1/4 c. sugar

• 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1 c. flour

For topping:

• 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar

• 3 tbsp. flour

• 3 eggs

• 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lime or lemon zest

• 1/2 c. strained freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice

• Powdered sugar for dusting, optional


Position a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of 8- by 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.

To make crust: In a medium bowl, combine melted butter with sugar, vanilla and salt. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Press dough evenly over bottom of pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until crust is fully baked, well-browned at the edges and golden brown in the center.

To make topping: While crust is baking, stir together sugar and flour in a large bowl until well-mixed. Whisk in eggs. Stir in lime or lemon zest and juice. When crust is ready, reduce heat to 300 degrees, slide rack with pan out and pour filling onto hot crust. Bake 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until topping no longer jiggles when pan is tapped.

Remove from oven to a wire rack to cool completely. Lift up foil liner and transfer bars to a cutting board. If surface is covered with a thin layer of moist foam (not unusual), blot surface gently with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture; repeat with a fresh piece of paper towel if necessary.

Using a long, sharp knife, cut bars into 16 or 24 daintier bars and sift powdered sugar over bars, if desired. Stored in an airtight container, bars can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 112 Fat 5 g Sodium 34 mg Carbohydrates 17 g Saturated fat 3 g Calcium 6 mg

Protein 1 g Cholesterol 37 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 other carb, 1 fat.

italian chocolate-almond torte

Serves 10.

Note: From "Pure Desserts," by Medrich.

• Butter for pan

• 1 c. (5 oz.) unblanched or blanched whole almonds

• 7 oz. good-quality unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped

• 1 c. sugar, divided

• 1/8 tsp. salt

• 7 large egg whites (1 c.)

• 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

• Powdered sugar or unsweetened cocoa for dusting

• Sweetened whipped cream for serving, optional


Position a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease sides of a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine almonds, chocolate, 1/2 cup of sugar and salt and pulse until almonds and chocolate are very finely chopped but not completely pulverized. Reserve.

In a clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft, moist peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold 1/3 of nut mixture until nearly incorporated, repeating with remaining two 1/3 portions. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake until torte has risen and is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean (or with a little melted chocolate), about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Remove sides of pan and invert cake onto wire rack, removing bottom of pan and parchment paper. Turn cake right side up and cool completely. (Wrapped tightly, cake can be stored for up to 3 days at room temperature.)

Transfer cake to serving plate, dust with sifted powdered sugar or cocoa and a dollop of whipped cream (if desired) and serve.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 271 Fat 13 g Sodium 75 mg Carbohydrates 36 g Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 39 mg

Protein 7 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1½ bread/starch, 1 other carb, 2½ fat.