A not so secret thing about me: I'm not a huge lemon fan. Invariably, I would never pick lemon bars as my dessert of choice. So why the heck did I make them, then, you wonder? Well, I had a couple lemons sitting around, about ready to go to waste, and no, I was not going to stand for that! And, since certain people around here like shortbread and lemon, voila!
The craziest thing? I kind of like them! In small doses, ha. I mean eating a huge chunk of it is a little bit tart and whoa. Nonetheless, I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed these. The lemon flavor is really determined by your lemons. I would definitely recommend making sure they are nice and ripe and, if you can, organic is definitely best. Whatever you can get the most juice out of, for sure.
Next confession: I kind of messed these up the first time I made them! Yes, it happens to everyone. The recipe I was following didn't say when exactly to pour the lemon topping onto the bars, just when they were warm out of the oven. Well, I did it too quickly!
Don't do it right when the crust gets out of the oven. I mean, you can, but the weirdest thing happened - my topping ended up being on the bottom. This seems like it would defy the laws of physics, but it happened. The lemon was on the bottom, the shortbread was on the top, and I was very confused. I assume it must've been able to pour straight through the shortbread while it was still very hot and not completely cooked together. So, I reflect this in my directions - let the crust sit for 5 minutes when you take it out of the oven, then pour your topping on before you put it back in the oven again. Got it? Good!
I definitely recommend these if you are a lemon fan. And even if you're a bit on the fence, you may give them a try, because I unexpectedly like them and am decidedly not a lemon fan at all! Also, they're really pretty easy. The only thing is that you do dirty a lot of utensils and whatnot with all of the zesting and juicing and whatnot. But so worth it.
Classic Lemon Bars
- For the Crust:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- pinch salt
- For the Topping:
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- zest and juice from two medium lemons
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Place your oven rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat to 350F. Grease an 8x8 baking pan and set aside for now.
- To make the crust: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in your flour and salt. Beat until it's incorporated, then press it down into your prepared pan. Pro Tip: get your hand wet so the dough doesn't stick to you. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the edges have just browned.
- While that's baking, make your topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until nicely combined and thick. Add in the flour, zest, and juice, and whisk until blended.
- When the crust is done baking, let it sit for five minutes. Then, pour your topping on there. Stick that back in the oven and bake for another 18-20 minutes, until the edges have browned a tiny bit and it doesn't jiggle in the center when you move it.
- Allow to cool completely in the pan. Slice into squares, and go to town. You can get fancy and dust with some powdered sugar if you like as well, but it's totally not necessary!