These are lemon raspberry bars. They are perfectly bold and citrusy, dribbled with a tart raspberry ribbon, and not yours. Unless you make them yourself, of course – or have a thirtieth birthday. My dear friend Alyssa did the latter, which is why any leftovers remain at her house for her and her lovely husband to enjoy and are not sitting on my kitchen table waiting for lucky visitors.
These bars have something of a birthday tradition behind them. The first time I made them, it was for a professor who took them into his office and shut his door so his protracted moans of pleasure would be muted. I’m not kidding. It was mildly flattering, with a hefty side of awkward.
But don’t let that deter you from making these. The original recipe offers two options (a thick lemon layer, and a more traditional thinner one), and I’ve added a third in the form of the raspberry ribbon. You’ll win with any of them – just be sure you’re prepared to make a quick exit in case the recipient – or you – need some “private time.”
Lemon Raspberry Bars
Adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen
I’ve written this as I made it and included the addition of a raspberry drizzle. Since I ended up using two 9×9 pans instead of a 13×9, I went with the thicker lemon layer.
For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the full-size lemon layer:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
[Or] for a thinner lemon layer:
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup flour
For the raspberry drizzle:
1 bag frozen raspberries, mostly thawed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill (*Allison’s note: I’ve skipped this step with no adverse effects).
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 20 minutes (less if you are using the thinner topping)
In the meantime, puree the raspberries in the food processor or blender until smooth. (I didn’t worry about the seeds, but if you’re really anal, you could certainly push the puree through a mesh sieve after blending.) Transfer to a small saucepan. Over medium heat, add butter and sugar; stir until butter is melted and combined. Remove from heat.
Using a spoon (you could even use a pastry bag, or a Ziploc back with a small hold cut in the tip, for more control), drizzle the raspberry sauce onto the lemon bars. Be careful not to agitate the filling too much so there are still distinct areas of lemon and raspberry. You’ll probably have some left over – I would imagine this would be delicious eaten straight out of the saucepan with the mixing spoon over ice cream. Bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into triangles (or squares, if you’re me) and dust with confectioners’ sugar.