Lemon bars are among my favorite cookies; the contrast between the crispy buttery dough layer and the lemon cream on top is almost addictive for me.
Unfortunately, too many times the bars are too large and are made with a thick dough layer, covered with a thick, overly sweet lemon layer, which is far from soft and creamy, as it should be.
Therefore, I usually end up making the bars myself, exactly the way I like them: thin dough layer, a bit less sugar, and shorter baking time, to make sure the lemon layer is still pleasantly gooey and moist.
Another difference to the more familiar bars, is that I cut the bars into different sizes, from medium to very small. This allows me to serve the squares in different ways: the tiny squares are just perfect for buffets or finger food party, while the medium size ones can be served on a plate, with some whipped cream and berries, to create an easy and light dessert. Both sizes are obviously also great as a snack anytime.
I’m sure you’ll love them too, once you’ll try them.
* In the version I’ve made here, I’ve decided to add some raspberry filling from this post to the lemon layer. It added a nice pinkish color and a more complex flavor. I will definitely repeat this again, with the homemade filling, or with store bought raspberry jam. For the original lemon-only version, simply omit it.
* If you prefer thicker squares, use a bit smaller pan. In this case you’ll have to adjust the baking times, so keep an eye while baking.
* I find the squares to be sweet enough, but if you prefer a sweeter version, increase the amount of sugar in the lemon layer to 1 cup.
* The bars can keep, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 3 days, or in the freezer, for up to a month. In this case, dust with added powdered before serving.
Makes: 70 mini squares (0.8”, 2cm), or 20 medium (1.5”, 4cm)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
For the dough layer:
1 cup flour
¼ cup sugar
1 stick (115 grams) butter, cold, cut into small cubes
For the lemon-raspberry layer:
2 XL eggs
Zest from ½ lemon
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tbs flour
1/3 cup raspberry filling or jam (see notes)
For dusting the squares:
¼ cup powdered sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 360F(180C). Line a 8” x 12” (20.5cm x 30cm) baking pan with baking paper.
2. The dough layer: process the flour, sugar, butter and salt to a fairly fine crumbly mixture. Press it into the lined pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Take out of the oven, but keep the oven on. Let it cool a bit.
3. The lemon layer: in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest and juice, sugar, flour and salt. Pour over the partially baked dough and spread with a spatula. Drop teaspoons of the raspberry filling or jam all over and mix gently with a fork, to create a marble pattern.
4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the lemon layer is set but still soft.
5. Let cool to room temperature in the pan. Holding the baking paper, transfer to a large cutting board.
With a large, heavy knife, cut off the edges, then cut into squares the size you prefer. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.