These lemon bars are inspired by a recipe from my grandma. I made them at my restaurant and they were always a favorite. We always had two options, a plain lemon bar and one with fruit. We did blueberry, raspberry, strawberry and blackberry. So yummy!
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The base is pretty simple shortbread. You will want to preheat your oven to 350℉ and prepare a 9×13 baking dish. Butter or oil dish and line with parchment so that the sides are hanging over the long edges to make it easy to remove the lemon bars from the dish. Next, put all the base ingredients into a bowl and cut the butter in with a pastry cutter, fork or your hands until the butter is in little bits throughout. You know its ready when you can press some in your hand and it holds together. Dump the shortbread mixture into your prepared baking dish and press evenly to fill out the bottom of the dish. Put the base in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. While the base is baking you can get the filling ready.
lemon Bar filling
Using the same bowl as the base, mix the eggs, sugar and flour together first. This will allow the flour to get mixed in without forming any clumps. It’ll be kinda thick and paste like. Then add 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice, fresh juice and zest and 1/2 cup of whipping cream and whisk together. I use bottled lemon juice but you could juice your own lemons if you wanted as well. You also can use milk or half n half. They just may not be as creamy.
baking the filling
Once the base is done, carefully pull the rack that your pan in on out and pour the mixture directly onto the hot shortbread base. Doing this will help make sure you do not have a soggy base. You can also take the pan out, pour it in and put it back in the oven. Whichever way is easier for you. If you would like to add fruit, now is the time! Sprinkle whatever fruit you are adding all over the top of the filling. We used about one cup when we made them at the restaurant. Set a timer for 30 minutes and then check. You want it to be fully set. No jiggle in the middle. Once done pull out and put on a rack to cool.
cutting lemon bars
When you are ready to cut the bars, run a butter knife or spatula along the short edges to release it from the sides of the dish. Use the edges of the parchment to pull the lemon bars out of the pan and put on a cutting board. I cut once down the middle long way and then across four times. This makes a nice bar shape. They are a little harder to cut with the fruit in them , to make it easier you can put the bars (on the cutting board) in the freezer for about twenty minutes to help them firm up a bit. I have also done them smaller for more of a bite size treat for parties and events. I took these ones to the teachers at my kids school. Be sure the lemon bars are fully cool before cutting… or eating.
freezing lemon bars
The lemon bars also freeze well. Which makes for a nice last minute dessert you can pull out of the freezer when needed. To freeze, arrange bars in a single layer on a parchment lined pan, once frozen, you can stack them with parchment paper in between the layers and put in a container or a silicone or wax freezer bag.
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- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 8 large eggs
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 2 lemons, zest and juice
- 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter or oil a 9×13 inch baking dish and line with baking parchment so that parchment is hanging over long sides of dish. Butter or oil the parchment as well.
- Put the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and stir to combine
- Add the butter and cut in with a pastry cutter, fork or your fingers, until you have a crumbly mixture that holds together when you press it in your hand
- Pour the crumbly mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread out evenly and press firmly into place so that it fills the bottom of the baking dish.
- Place in oven and set time for 20 minutes while you mix the filling. Crust is done when it is light golden brown.
- While crust is baking, mix the filling.
- Using the same bowl that you mixed the crust in, mix the eggs, sugar and flour together until you have a thick paste like consistency.
- Add the zest and mix.
- Measure the lemon juice and whipping cream together and pour that into the egg mixture a little at a time, whisk together as you go until all he liquid is mixed in.
- Set aside until crust is done
- When crust is ready, pour the filling on top of the hot crust and return to oven
- Bake for another 30-40 minutes or until filling is set
- Let cool completely. When cool, loosen the ends of the bars with a spatula or butter knife
- Then lift the bars out of the dish with the parchment paper and set on a cutting board
- Cut into bars, Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!
- Store extras in refrigerator. Be sure to divide layers with parchment paper if stacking bars.