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Lemon Bars

I enjoy lemon desserts – not as much as chocolate but they have their place. When I was in my more experimental baking phase (which also happened to be my childless phase, how do you figure), I used to love making lemon curd. I’d spread some on a warm biscuit with freshly whipped cream and feel fancy. Now, instead of experimenting with desserts, I make them when needed for potluck situations and I only make winners.

This bar, from America’s Test Kitchen, was memorably good. I gave my mom the recipe and she made them for guests to RAVE reviews. Instead of the lemon bar that you may have had before that is a lemon flavored shortbread bar, this has a shortbread crust with a lemon curd top (that, thanks to a quick date with the oven, firms up to hold its shape when cut). They were so memorably good that I didn’t want to risk losing the recipe, which is why it’s going on here. I believe it’s my first and only lemon bar, and I have no desire to try another version. It’s lemon bar nirvana.

Lemon Bars

Makes 8×8 pan

America’s Test Kitchen


1 c. all purpose flour

1/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted


1 c. sugar

2 tbsp. all purpose flour

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 tsp. salt

3 large eggs plus 3 large yolks

2 tsp. grated lemon zest

2/3 c. lemon juice (from 4 lemons)

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Powdered sugar, optional, for topping

  1. Set oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make a foil sling for an 8×8 inch baking pan.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar and salt together. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture into prepared pan and bake for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile, in empty bowl from the crust, whisk sugar, flour, cream of tartar and salt together until combined. Add eggs and yolks and whisk until smooth. Whisk in zest and juice.
  4. Transfer mixture to a small saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk constantly until mixture noticeably thickens, somewhere between 5-8 minutes. Off heat, stir in butter.
  5. Strain filling through fine mesh strainer set over bowl, and then transfer filling to hot crust when it comes out of the oven. Tilt pan to smooth into edges or spread with an offset spatula.
  6. Return pan to oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit at room temperature for 1.5 hours at least, then remove bars from pan using sling and cut into desired squares. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving.