Pucker-Up Lemon Bars
I love lemon desserts. Maybe it’s because they remind me of summer and picnics and the state fair, but I think anything with lemon in it is absolute perfection. If you’ve ever been with me at a cafe or bakery and I’ve found out that they have a lemon dessert, you’ve seen just how quickly I lose my shit over them. Every year at the fair grounds I hone in on the Vagabond Blues food truck, which sells one of the best lemon bars I’ve ever had.
Of course, lemon bars take the cake in this department. They’re gooey, tart, and sweet but not sugary, everything that a lemon dessert should be. I like mine to be super, duper tart. After all, if I’d wanted something sweet, I would have made a chocolate cake. I want to feel like I’m drowning in a sea of Pine-Sol. If I don’t, my lemon bars aren’t tart enough.
Of course, I toned it back just a teensy bit to make these more accessible to people who might not want such an intense experience. I low-key think you’re crazy, but I threw you a bone here. Don’t be fooled, though. These are still lemon-y AF and not for the citrus-haters in the room (they can have cookies instead).
To address the question that I know y’all are gonna ask, the answer is, “No, you cannot use the pre-made lemon juice as a substitute for fresh lemon juice.” I know, you don’t have fresh lemons and the nearest Wal-Mart is in China. I know, your hand cramps when you squeeze them. I know, you don’t like that it gets everywhere and makes everything sticky. I, too, have experienced the trauma of a pure lemon juice quirt in the eye. We just have to deal with it.
If you want the taste and smell of clean, bright lemons to fill your house, here’s how to get it done.
1 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Cups Flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
6 Large Eggs, Room Temperature
1 1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest
2 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 Cup Flour
Powdered Sugar (For dusting)
Preheat oven to 325.
For the crust, cream together butter and sugar in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Then, add flour, making sure that you fold it into the batter in between each cup. Flatten into greased 9-by-13 pan, with about a 1/2 inch rise up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, set aside. Bring oven temp to 350.
For the filling, whisk eggs in a large bowl until there is a consistent color. Using a sieve, strain lemon juice into bowl. Add lemon zest, sugar, and flour, whisking along the way. Once mixed, pour over crust. Cook 30 minutes, then cool at room temperature half an hour for filling to set.
Once completely cooled, dust with powdered sugar (I usually skip this step because it’s too sweet for me, but historically, lemon bars have powdered sugar on top).
Then chow down and be ready to pucker up.
What I like about these is that it’s so easy to cut them up and package them in Ziploc containers, making it easy to give them away or take to parties (or eat at 3am in your pajamas, no judgment). There’s nothing better than finishing off your meal with something that’s so packed with flavor but that doesn’t feel super heavy.
And of course, if you can’t get enough, you can always wash it down with some lemonade.
I hope everyone is staying happy, and healthy, and well-fed these days. Taking care of ourselves is hard, especially when the world is cold outside. In my experience, keeping your kitchen and your heart warm helps everything feel a little bit better.
Until next time, keep the lemon juice out of your eyes (for the love of God).