Lemon Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting

lemon bars

When you have wonderful friends, you want to feed them wonderful food.

Which is a convenient sentiment, since I was brought up to never arrive empty-handed.  So even after a very long week at work (during which I did not even run to the convenience store for milk, let alone go to the grocery store) I still needed to make lemon bars.  And yes, I NEEDED to make lemon bars.  I’ve actually been dreaming about my Nannie’s lemon bars for weeks, and going to Newport was really just a fabulous excuse to finally make them.  And then to get them out of the house.  Yes, that part was key. 

lemon bar with cream cheese frostingBut at eight o’clock in the evening, when I pulled out the lemon bar recipe, I realized I had only about half of the ingredients I needed.  No powdered sugar, just a handful of granulated sugar packets, and only half a cup of all-purpose flour. At least I had lemons.  But Nannie’s lemon bars had a lovely, delicate pastry crust and a big, thick layer of yellow custard topped with plenty of powdered sugar.  And did I go to the store for powdered sugar?  Of course not. 

It actually worked out for the best.  These lemon bars are really nothing like Nannie’s, but they are lovely and creamy and addictive.  And after a beautiful and sunny day of sailing, we gobbled them up. Grinding up turbinado sugar for the custard may be a bit much, if you actually have granulated sugar in the house.  So you can probably substitute, if you like.  But I really loved this crust.  Who knew that whole wheat flour and turbinado sugar would make for such great flavor?

lemon bars with cream cheese frosting

Lemon Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

makes about 2 dozen small bars

for the crust:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup melted butter

for the custard:

3 tablespoons lemon zest (from about 3  lemons)

1/8 cup fresh lemon juice

3 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

for the frosting:

1/4 cup butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together the flours, sugar, salt, and butter.  Press the crust mixture into the bottom and sides of a square eight-by-eight inch baking pan.   Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly crisp around the edges. 

Meanwhile, mix together the lemon zest, juice, eggs and granulated sugar.  Whir the turbinado sugar in the food processor until it has the texture of granulated sugar.  Add to the lemon mixture and pour evenly into the crust.  Bake 15-20 minutes until the custard is set. Cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the butter until fluffy, add the cream cheese and vanilla and beat well.  Whir the turbinado sugar in a food processor until it has the texture of granulated sugar.  Add the sugar to the frosting and beat to incorporate.  Spread the frosting over the cooled custard and cut into bars.  Keep in the refrigerator 3-5 days.

Published in: on May 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm  Comments (26)  
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26 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have plenty of lemons which my husband purchased the other day. This would be the perfect recipe for me. I like how you “improvise” to work with what’s available in your house. I do that a lot as well!

  2. Fabulous flavors and a fabulous read. Love your quick thinking when you ran our of powdered sugar. Do you know I have never made lemon bars ever? 🙂

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

    • Well, then you have to make them! Lemon bars are so simple and easy – one of those great crowd-pleasers.

  3. It is the greatest feeling to be creative, use ingredients you happen to have on hand and end up with something delicious 🙂

  4. This is something that my mother would love, as she like cookies and sweets (and me, no to much). I have heard about those lemon bars, but never had a chance to prepare them. Maybe when I will be in Poland next month, I can make some for my mom ?

  5. I had a period when I baked lemon bars a lot! I love the fact that you used whole wheat flour in yours: what a great idea! It gives them more bite and cuts the sweetness too!

    • Yeah, the whole wheat flour totally makes these lemon bars awesome! The nuttiness of the crust really works with the lemon, and stands up to the frosting too. I’ve been trying to bake more with whole wheat flour, I love when it works out!

  6. This looks amazing! Whole wheat flour and turbinado? Genius!

  7. Oh, I hardly eat sweets, but I cannot resist a lemon bar! My favorite dessert flavor of all time. These look amazing.

  8. Delish! Delsih! Creative baking 🙂

  9. Pretty, and healthy too right!? I mean whole wheat flour…;P

    • Haha, yeah, healthy. That’s what I told myself when I ate half a dozen of them!

  10. Oh, these sound stupendous, Cozy! 🙂 Yum, yum! That crust sounds fantastic. 🙂

  11. My grandmother used to make the most delicious lemon bars. But I’ve never had them with cream cream on top. It must be fabulous!

  12. I can never arrive empty handed either. These look delicious. I like that you only used 3 eggs, many lemon bars I have tried have that “eggy” smell to them, maybe from too many egg yolks.

  13. I love everything lemony and lemon bars have always been a favorite of mine. I would love a serving or two right now-yum!

  14. wow these are making my mouth water. perfect for the spring and of course you cant go wrong with cream cheese frosting! yum!

  15. I really like the crust- turbinado sugar oh yum


  16. Way to go! You used what you already had and it came out great. I love when this happens! 🙂

  17. I walk to my grocery store so I often by the little small package of sugar and flour so its not too heavy on my walk back. Which means I often run out of these key baking ingredients. Sometimes you create better recipes when you improvise!

    I never arrive empty handed either. Always a baked treat in hand…and then I feel a little less guilty for not offering to help with the dishes =).

  18. I love lemon squares. They really remind me of summer with such burst of freshness. Way to make the recipe yours. I would send my husband to the store 😉

  19. I absolutely love lemon bars these look great, sounds like you not only rolled with adversity (not having ingredients but made something better. Cool

  20. Oh I like the soft frosting on top, the lemon bar looks really moist and not the kind I am familiar with, great job!

  21. Boy, these look delicious and a great way to use all those lemons from our tree. I’ll be bookmarking this for asap.

  22. “When you have wonderful friends, you want to feed them wonderful food.”

    This statement is so true! All my friends know to come over if they are hungry or craving sweets because I always have something baking or simmering away. And if I don’t, I will shortly! haha

    Love these lemon bars, too. So creative! Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  23. these look lovely xx thanks for sharing!

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