I’ve always loved lemon bars. Unfortunately, lots of times they are too sweet, too sour, too bland, you know the story. These lemon bars are the perfect blend of tangy and tart lemon with a wonderful shortbread crust. I had not made lemon bars from scratch before, but when my neighbor, Paula, brought these over, and testified how easy they were to make, I had to give it a try. She was totally right. Not much more effort than the boxed lemon bars, and about a thousand and one times better. Luckily, my On The Vine csa box from North Scottsdale Farmers Market this week had just the amount of lemons needed for the recipe. I made these earlier in the week for my husband as part of an early Valentine’s Day present. It gets so annoying, because he always tries to “one-up” me in gifts. Little did I know these lemon bars would be such a life saver today.
You see, this post could more accurately be called “when your toddler gives you lemons…”. It’s been one of those days. From tantrums to biting (me) to throwing things (like my glasses) to refusing to nap (all before noon), my usually sweet and mild-mannered toddler made me question whether I should 1) perform an exorcism or 2) rethink being a stay at home mom. I called my dear husband at work for reassurance that I wasn’t the worst mom in the world. I then realized that the little guy had about four molars coming in at the same time. After pulling out all the stops (teething tablets, ibuprofen, frozen teether), the kid made a turnaround (thankfully, not his head) for the better by the late afternoon. My husband took pity on us, and took us out to dinner. After we put the little one down, he let me eat the last lemon bar. I don’t think I can top this one!
This recipe was adapted from the Best Lemons Bars recipe on Allrecipes. If you like your lemon bars more tart like I do, follow the directions below. If you like them more subdued, use a 1/2 cup instead 2/3 cup of lemon juice, and omit the zest and the extra tablespoon of flour.
- Prep Time : 15 minutes
- Cook Time : 40 minutes
- Yield : 24
- For the crust
- unsalted butter - 1 cup (two sticks), softened
- sugar - 1/2 cup
- All purpose flour - 2 cups
- salt - 1/2 tsp
- For the filling
- eggs - 4
- sugar - 1 1/2 cups
- All purpose flour - 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp
- lemon juice - 2/3 cup (about three lemons)
- lemon zest - zest of two lemons (optional)
- powdered sugar - 1/2 cup
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degress C).
- Mix softened butter with 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl. I used my stand mixer. Be sure not to over mix.
- Press dough into a 9x13 pan. If you want a thicker bar and crust, a 9x11 pan is ideal.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes until crust is firm and golden around the edges. Bake an extra 5-10 minutes or so to cooking time if using a smaller sized pan.
- While baking, start making the filling by whisking 1 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add eggs, lemon juice, and zest, and whisk until blended. Pour over the baked crust.
- Bake bars in the over for an additional 20 minutes. Again, add an extra 5-10 minutes baking time if using smaller pan. Lemon filling will firm up when cooled.
- After completely cooled, cut squares from pan, and dust with powdered sugar.