As the oldest child, I remember having special privileges – privileges like staying up late with mom to watch Dynasty. Once a week, we would make lemon bars and snack ourselves into the world of shoulder pads and male stunt doubles in awful wigs playing the roles of over-privileged, fighting women.
Lemon bars never made me feel entitled, though; nor, did they throw me into cat fights. After all, many of us oldest kids understand with great lemon bars comes great responsibility. I washed plenty of dishes & piles of laundry and babysat my siblings to earn my guilty pleasures of watching Dynasty.
And, when I hadn’t, I just sneaked behind my dad’s armchair to watch from the hallway. Don’t tell mom.
- Lemon zest from 3 fresh lemons
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (this will take about 3-4 juicy lemons to create)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (milk is fine to substitute in this recipe)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 tablespoons salted butter
Place lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and egg yolks into a saucepan and whisk together well. Then whisk in cream and cornstarch until cornstarch is dissolved.
- Don’t add the cream before the sugar because the lemon will curdle the milk. Don’t add the cornstarch before the sugar because, well, the lemon will deactivate the Wonder Twin Powers of the cornstarch… it’s all that acidy science stuff. Basically, sugar brings everyone together.
- Save egg whites in the fridge for an egg white omelet or 1/4 cup will replace one large egg in other recipes.
Now that no participants are deactivating other participants and egg whites have been rescued from the trash, place saucepan over medium high heat. Cook while whisking continuously. Remove from heat when you see it start to thicken. Stir in butter until fully melted. Set aside. Mmmmmmm.
Cookie Bar Dough
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Place all ingredients together in a mixer. Mix until combined.
Lemon Bars Assimilation
Press cookie bar dough into a 9X13 pan. Pour lemon curd evenly over cookie bar dough in pan. Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes.
Best if served when cooled to room temperature and refrigeration will make them firmer for a cleaner cut – not that mom & I did this. Like. Um. Ever. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar through a sifter if desired. Cut into delightful, golden squares.
Your Own Creative Touch
There are many ways to make these lemon bars your very own. You can mix 1/4 cup of poppy seeds into the cookie bar dough.
Or, how about spreading a thin layer of strawberry jam over the dough before adding your lemon curd.
Or, how about this craziness? The cream cheese filling in the middle? Don’t have a cream cheese filling recipe? No worries. I’ve got your back…
Cream Cheese Filling
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup butter (or 1/2 a stick) softened
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- Dash of salt
Whip ingredients together for a few minutes. Use as a filling in between the cookie bar layer and lemon curd in your lemon bars.