Gary loves lemon bars. Really, he loves any type of fruity dessert, but lemon bars in particular. Our dear former Dallas neighbor, Linda, used to make her version, surprising Gary every now and then with a tray of these sweet, tangy, sticky treats. Those were good days.
Here is my take on the classic lemon bar recipe, made with love, for the one I love.
For the crust – 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/3 teaspoon of salt
For the filling –
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
juice and zest of 2 large lemons (about 1 cup of lemon juice)
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
optional – dried lavender, fresh mint, fresh thyme, candied ginger, raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt together then cut in the softened butter. Mix with a wooden spoon, or your hands, until a crumbly dough comes together. Don’t over mix. Butter and flour an 8×12 baking dish, then line with parchment paper. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Place the baking dish in the oven and par-bake the dough for about 15 minutes, until just golden.
While the crust is cooking, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest, vanilla, and salt. Add flour and baking powder. Whisk to combine. If you wanted to add any additional flavors, like lavender, mint, ginger, basil, thyme, etc., add now. Don’t overdo the additions though, the lemon is really the star.
When the crust is lightly golden, remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Optional – If you wanted to add a layer of raspberry or strawberry jam in between the crust and the lemon mixture, spread a thin layer on the bottom of the crust.
When the bars are cool, carefully lift the parchment paper out of the baking dish, place the bars on a cutting board and cut into 2 to 4-inch squares, to your taste.
Dust the lemon bars with powdered sugar, and garnish with a sprig of mint or a few fresh berries. Enjoy.