I remember the first time I tasted lemon bars. I was a kid, and my mom had made them (along with a host of other desserts) for my dad’s birthday. As a kid, I had a hard time appreciating the delicate, yet wonderfully tart lemon flavor. But today, there’s nothing I love more than a square (or two) of these sweet desserts that have just the right amount of pucker. These classic treats have earned their spot at any picnic or bake sale, and now, on our “Sweet” list.
Yield: around 20 squares
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Ina Garten
Why I love this recipe: all too often, lemon bars are sickeningly sweet without much lemon flavor coming through. But these bars are perfectly tart and lemon-y, thanks to lots of lemon zest, juice and not too much sugar, which results in superb flavor and a dreamy, curd-like filling.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
- 2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup flour
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.
- For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed.
- Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
- Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
- For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
- Cut into rectangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.