Pfffffttt, what a tame, unenthusiastic title for this recipe. Lemon-Almond Bars. Yawn. It in no freakin’ way describes how incredible they are. And trust me, they. are. incredible. We go all-in and powerful with the lemony zing. The shortbread crust is nice and tender. Then you make more of that and sprinkle it on top. Bam! Sparkly Lemon Zing bars is more like it.
Recipe titles aside, rest assured these are not your average lemon bars. See that stuff up front that looks kind of like lumpy rock candy? Well, it’s actually candied ginger. The recipe calls for crystallized ginger, but I had uncrystallized and it worked magically and deliciously well.
This is a shortbread crust, so be warned, all the butter is used for this recipe. But it’s shortbread, so no one should be surprised. Just squish that shortbread into a 9×13 pan, pre-sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. This gets baked a little first, then we made a really nice lemon filling, kind of like a lemon curd. Or, pretty much a lemon curd. Yeah.
Oh, and it looks like all the sugar was used in this one as well! Would you believe us if we told you that we actually cut back on the sugar by about 1/4 to half a cup? No? Well, we totally did. Really!
A little flour, baking powder and the ginger goes into the liquid half lemon curd filling.
The recipe uses 2/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice. If that seems like a lot, well, we are making lemon bars after all. To me, the lemon flavor itself was perfect in these bars.
And into that pan of pre-baked shortbread all that lovely, bright filling goes!
When the lemon curd has baked and just set (and no longer jiggles when you try to remove the pan from the oven), sprinkle on some crumbled shortbread pieces and sliced almonds. This topping literally makes these bar cookies one hundred percent better….and they were already phenomenal beforehand! Bake just a little bit more and soon you’ve got a really reckless and tempting dessert on hand.
Well, these little beauties absolutely rocked. There’s no other way to say it, really. I’ve made a couple other lemon bar recipes and pretty much been underwhelmed. This recipe is going down as my go-to fix for lemon bars now and I must say, every minute making them was worth it. So was the mess!
from Southern Living Magazine, February 2014 via MyRecipes.com
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: about 65 minutes Cool Time: about 1 hour Level: Easy Serves: 10-12
- 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest, divided
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt, divided
- Vegetable cooking spray
- 6 large eggs
- 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Garnish: powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Beat 1/4 cup granulated sugar, butter, and 1 tsp. zest at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer 2 minutes or until creamy. Stir together 2 cups flour and 1/4 tsp. salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until just blended. Coat a 13- x 9-inch pan with cooking spray. Press dough into bottom of prepared pan. Chill 15 minutes.
Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 325°.
Whisk together eggs and 2 cups sugar. Process ginger and 1/2 cup flour in a food processor 1 minute or until ginger is finely chopped. Stir in baking powder. Whisk ginger mixture into egg mixture. Whisk in lemon juice and remaining 2 Tbsp. lemon zest; pour over crust.
Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is just set. Remove from oven.
Stir together remaining 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Stir in melted butter until well blended. Stir in almonds. Sprinkle over hot lemon mixture, and bake 20 to 25 more minutes or just until lightly golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cut into squares.
Our topping didn’t really seem to want to brown. We baked ours an extra five minutes or so, but still no browning. We decided to pull them out anyway so as not to over bake the lemon filling. They turned out perfectly and the shortbread topping was just right.
Again on the ginger – my package simply said candied ginger. We used my small one-cup food prep chopper and it worked fine. The ginger was a little tougher to chop with it than most things we used the little machine for, but the ginger eventually chopped into nice small pieces. Just keep pulsing till you get small-diced pieces.
On the servings and amount of people this will serve: depends entirely on how big or small you cut your bars. The original said yield was 32 bars, but we cut ours into 24 and I still had plenty to take to work the next day to share with almost 12 people.
If you make the topping ahead of time, consider keeping it in the fridge till ready to use. Our kitchen was hot, so I stuck mine in the fridge so that the butter in the topping wouldn’t get too close to room temperature. This helps the crumble topping from not just melting in the oven.