I have been making some variation of lemon bars since I was a kid. Mostly my mom made them because they are easy and quick. I followed suit, as they are generally a no-fuss crowd-pleaser. But somewhere along the line, the recipe I’d been using all my life stopped working. The filling would never solidify/thicken, so it was like a lemon soup inside while the outer edges were virtually burned. I don’t know why this is – it just didn’t work no matter what I did.
So when I decided to use up a stockpile of pistachios and wanted to move beyond my standard recipes, I thought lemon and pistachio would be a good match. I used the standard shortbread crust I have always used for lemon bars; I searched around for other filling recipes… but oddly, though I found a different one, it’s still basically the same as the one I’ve always used with a reduced amount of sugar, which is probably better. Maybe I just whisked/beat it better than in the past. Or something. There are only so many ways to make lemon filling, right?
The people who ate these raved.
Lemon pistachio bars Crust
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C
2 cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Combine base ingredients until crumbly. Press mix into an ungreased 13×9 inch pan. Bake until golden brown (about 20-30 minutes).
Reduce oven temperature to 160C
4 eggs, well-beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
a pinch of salt
Whisk eggs; add all other ingredients except lemon juice and zest, which should be added last. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing into squares.
You can sift powdered sugar on top of the cut bars.
I can’t count the number of times I have written about lemon bars. The ease of making them originally, the failures of the middle years and finally the adoption of a new recipe to just forge my own lemon bar making path.
Most recently I made some much praised lemon raspberry bars and have chosen to continue using that recipe. Most recently when I made them, I didn’t have raspberries on hand so I skipped that step… but following the recipe otherwise, it all turned out beautifully and the lemon bars were once more one of the most popular things.
I have written about lemon bars before – and have baked lemon bars since childhood. My mom had a recipe, and I just followed it. As I have written before, it was one of the easiest things one could bake and have it come out impressively. People loved them. But after I had a mishap baking them in Iceland (simply never was able to make them turn out right again), these fell off the list of popular baked goods. I have made them once or twice since living in Sweden but never really felt the happiness and ease about them that I once felt. That original mom-approved recipe had served me well but I recently decided that it had its day. I recognized that the recipe, though nice, just did not produce enough lemony gooey goodness. The lemon was not thick enough to be really … luscious. It sort of seeped into the shortbread crust, and while it still had a nice result, it was not like the lemon curd-ish/lemon meringue pie-like filling one might dream of when grabbing a slab of lemon bar.
ooey gooey lemon raspberry bars
I also wanted to incorporate a bit of fresh raspberry to please the palate of a raspberry-loving colleague. With the new recipe led to nothing but overflowing, glowing praise. “This tastes just like heaven”. New recipe, fresh start.
lemon raspberry bars – just like heaven
Lemon raspberry bar recipe Crust
Preheat oven to 175C
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Mix all ingredients and press evenly into a rectangular (approximately 9×13 glass pan). Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Cool about 30 minutes before adding the topping and baking again.
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup fresh raspberries
Mix sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a saucepan and whisk together. Add raspberries. Cook all over medium heat and whisk constantly until the puree becomes thicker and raspberries start to break down. Strain the mixture and let the strained mix cool. Set aside.
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup flour
Whisk eggs, sugar, zest and flour together. Gradually add in the lemon juice. Whisk until just combined. Pour over the warm crust. Once settled, add raspberry puree by the tablespoon around the top of the lemon. Swirl the raspberry by using a toothpick along the surface to create swirl. Move pan carefully to oven. Bake 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then cut into squares.