Lemon and sweets just go hand in hand. Give me something lemon-y and I’ll probably love it: lemonade, lemon cake, lemon bars…YUM! There is just something special about the balance of tart and sweet. My husband and I had a lemon theme for our wedding reception to go along with my “favorite things”. It was fantastic! We served lemonade instead of iced tea, our cake had a lemon-cream filling, we had lemons coated in sugar crystals as part of our centerpieces, and our dessert was, of course, lemon bars.
Lemon bars are probably one of my favorite desserts but I can’t seem to find a lot of people (or restaurants) that make them like the bars I grew up on. There is always some issue. Either they are too sweet, lack the lemon zing, or the crust is bland. Today, I’m sharing the recipe I grew up on. My cousin, Yolanda Banks, use to make these all the time. Now that she’s all grown up, an amazing chef, and author of the cookbook “Cooking for Your Man”, I think it’s safe to say that I can share it. (You can also find the recipe in her book). I hope these bars satisfy all of your sweet and sour cravings :)
½ c butter, softened
¼ c powdered sugar
1c all-purpose flour
1c granulated sugar
2 tbsp grated lemon peel
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Heat oven to 350F. Grease an 8” or 9” square pan. (Cooking times may vary depending on pan size so watch bars carefully when baking).
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and powdered sugar. Add the flour and mix until combined. Press the flour mixture into the bottom of the pan, building up ½” edges.
Tip: The mixture will start to clump together when it’s ready.
Bake crust 15 mins and set aside.
In the clean bowl of an electric mixer, beat granulated sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice, vanilla, baking powder, salt, and eggs with electric mixer on high speed about 3 mins or until light and fluffy. Pour over crust.
Note: I think the vanilla extract is my cousin’s secret ingredient because I don’t see it in many lemon bars recipes. It’s gives these bars another taste dimension.
Bake 15-20 mins or until no indentation remains when touched lightly in center. Cool; dust w/ powdered sugar. Cut into small squares.
These are truly “no pressure” and the recipe is easy to double. Try making these and placing them in decorative boxes as Christmas gifts for coworkers and friends.