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Lemon Bars

I really want to be a responsible adult and make more salads and light, fresh, healthy summer foods.  But really, in the depths of my soul, all I really want to do is eat dessert like a maniac.  And maybe finish things off with a flavored vodka (hint hint for a future blog post!).

I feel like these lemon bars are a compromise on what my body needs and what it actually wants.  I've had a desire to make lemon bars for years.  And in this case, I literally mean I've wanted to make them for years.  But as with all good intentions, I've been sidetracked by chocolate and cupcakes and sometimes even a bunch of kale.  But now I have a great "excuse" to make this wonderful dessert:  it's Secret Recipe Club time!

This month I was assigned Melissa's blog, Smells Like Brownies.  What a treat!  Melissa is a stay-at-home mom who takes care of two young'uns all day long, which I'm pretty sure means that she's a superhuman.  Melissa started her blog as a way to try out new food and eat well, which is one of the reasons I started mine as well!  Not surprisingly, I wanted to make pretty much everything on Melissa's site.  I really must stop researching recipes when I'm hungry.  Seriously.  I'm definitely making those hazelnut meringues one day soon though.  They will be mine!

Once I saw that Melissa had a recipe for lemon bars, I was sold.  It didn't hurt that I had to bring a dessert for my friends' Memorial Day BBQ and I knew I would need to impress since one of the hosts recently graduated from culinary school.  After I was done, I realized that I was a complete fool for not making these earlier.  You will not believe how easy and delicious this recipe is.  I ended up doubling the amount of filling for my bars because I am obsessed with the tangy lemon filling, but you could also choose to make bars with less filling if you so desire.

Classic Lemon Bars
slightly adapted from Smells Like Brownies
makes 9-16 squares

Print Recipe

For the Crust:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • pinch of salt

For the Lemon Filling:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2–4 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting the lemon bars

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In an 8 x 8 square pan, grease the bottom and sides, then add a layer of parchment paper.  Allow the paper to hang over the edges of the pan so the bars will be easier to take out of the pan later.  Grease the parchment paper as well.

2) In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar with a mixer until everything is incorporated.

3) Stir in the flour and salt.  The dough may be very crumbly, but this is ok!

4) Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, making sure to press it into an even layer.

5) Bake the crust for 15-18 minutes, or until it is set and slightly brown on top.

6) While the crust is baking, make the filling.  Whisk together the eggs and sugar.  Squeeze in the lemon juice.  Add zest and flour and stir everything together well.

7) Once the crust has finished baking, remove it from the oven.  Pour the filling over the top of the crust.

8) Place back in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.  The bars are done when they are light brown in color and set in the middle.

9) Let the bars cool completely in the pan before running a knife around the sides of the pan.  This ensures the lemon bars are not sticking to the pan.  Use the parchment paper to easily pull the bars out.

10) Cut the bars into the desired size.  Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.  Serve.