Looking for a fresh summer treat? These bars are the perfect blend of sweet and tart and are a must for your next summer picnic or BBQ. They are a sweet indulgence, but are totally worth it! I would suggest making them to bring somewhere, because if you have a whole batch of these in your house, you will keep going back for more and more! Don’t ask me how I know…..
I made a version of these while visiting my family in Arizona earlier this year and my mother said they were literally one of the best things she had ever tasted! I know she is my mom, but that is high praise! I also was super jealous because my sister has a huge lemon tree that leans over her fence that generously provides a plethora of huge fresh lemons literally dangling at her fingertips! They have them in such abundance that her kids even play with them as toys! I’m on the east coast and do not have the benefit of fresh citrus trees and I end up buying high priced grocery store lemons, so yes, I am just a teeny tiny bit envious! Fresh lemons and almost perpetual sunshine….. yeah…. bliss….
You will need about 5 big juicy lemons like these…
First, you will cream together butter and confectioners sugar- this looks like frosting… all it needs is a squeeze of lemon and it would be lemon icing…mmmmm, oops, I keep getting distracted! Focus! This actually is the crust….
Add in the flour and mix it until it looks like this…
Next, prepare your baking pan by lining it with parchment paper and pressing it into the lines of the pan so that it will stay put. It makes it so easy to simply lift out the bars from the pan. If you haven’t discovered the many benefits of parchment paper, pick some up next time you are at the store and it will transform your baking!
Now pour and press your dough into the pan evenly. I just floured my hands well and they worked great to press it down. Mine isn’t perfect, and yours doesn’t need to be either. You will want to create a small “lip” where the crust rises a bit up the sides of the pan. Next, pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes until it is nice and golden.
While it is baking, you will prepare your filling. This is made from lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, granulated sugar, and some flour.
Here is my three step process with the lemons…. Zest, Roll, and Squeeze….
First you will zest.… I love this microplane zester and it is similar to this one on amazon. My tip with zesting any citrus is to make sure you are only getting the peel and not the pith. The pith is the white stuff and it is very bitter! I learned this the hard way years ago when I was making some orange chicken…. it should have been called “Bitter Orange Chicken” and it was a lot of work and a disappointing experience. I don’t know how the experts “zest”, but I hold the zester still and I move the citrus over it. Not sure if that is correct but it has served me well.
Here is the lovely zest. It smells divine!
After you zest, then you will firmly roll the lemons on your counter several times, pressing into them firmly. This helps activate the juices.
Next, you will slice your lemons in half and squeeze out all of the juice. We need 1 cup of juice and it took 5 big lemons to provide the amount of zest and juice I needed.
In a large bowl you will whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and granulated sugar. It is a lot of sugar, but this isn’t something I eat every day. Ina Garten is the queen of delicious lemon bars and she adds 3 cups of sugar. That makes for a delicious bar but I know my husband likes them less sweet so I cut the sugar to 2.5 cups and they were perfect for us. You choose your amount of sugar based on your sweet tooth. You will then slowly add the 1 cup of flour to the mixture while whisking consistently to incorporate it and prevent any lumps.
Here is my little sweetie helping mom mix the filling.
Once the crust has baked, set it aside to cool… you don’t want to add the filling until it is cool or it will curdle and start cooking your eggs and that will not be pretty or tasty. The crust is very lightly browned and is exactly what you want.
Once that crust is cooler, you will pour in the egg mixture…
Bake it in the oven for about 35 minutes…. once it is done and cools down you can literally pull it out of the pan thanks to that handy parchment paper.
Slice it up into squares or triangles….
And make it gorgeous with a dusting of confectioners sugar…
My husband was VERY happy with these! I always try to glean feedback from him about my cooking and baking and he said he loved them and that the sweetness/tartness level was great and the crust to filling ratio was perfect. I might have had one or two myself just to evaluate them to make sure they were perfect and the recipe was ready to post…. I did it for you, and you’re welcome! 😉