Spring is here, and here at WTDWLemons we are excited. This week, I’m sharing an appropriately lemony inspired recipe that will brighten up your palet and have you smiling for spring. (Insert something whitty about lemons and the blog title, here.)
I’ve been making these bars for years, and I have no idea where I got the recipe from. It’s possible I made it up, it’s possible that I did not. I do know that the extra lemon juice and vanilla were personalizations, but as for the rest of the recipe…we can all just thank the dessert gods for this one.
In any case, these squares are classic, and a necessity to any springtime celebration. In the words of my Dad, these bars don’t stand a chance when it’s time for dessert. Make these, eat them all, make them again, and maybe share.
For the base:
-1 cup flour
-¼ cup powdered sugar
-½ cup (one stick) butter
-1t vanilla extract
For the lemon custard:
-1 cup sugar
-4 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
-½ t baking powder
-¼ t salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. To make this recipe, we will start with the base. Cream together the flour, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until well blended. Gradually add in the flour until you have a sticky, cookie-like batter. Using a greased spoon or floured hands, gently press the batter into the lined pan until you have a thin, even layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes – don’t worry about underbaking here, as we will be adding the lemony goodness and baking again! Warning: This is not the easiest thing to do. The base layer for these bars is thin by design, so there isn’t much batter to go spread around. If you’d like a thicker base, simply double the ingredients and follow the same instructions. In any case, it will be hard to spread – keep some extra flour on the side to coat your hands while working.
After the base has cooked and while it is cooling, we’ll make the lemon layer. Add all of the custard ingredients to a bowl, and mix until frothy and light in color and texture. I used my stand mixer for both portions of this recipe, but a hand mixer will do just fine. Pour the lemon mixture over the slightly cooled base, and bake the squares for another 18-22 minutes. I’m a chronic underbaker by choice, and opt for colser to the 18 minute mark. You’ll notice that the top layer will puff up a bit and brown in the oven – don’t panic! The brown color is coming from the caramelization of the sugar and lemon juice, and the poof will de-poof.
Allow the bars to fully cool; before cutting – I even throw mine in the fridge for an hour or two. They are sticky, but it is so worth it.