Lemon bars are one of those things like deviled eggs that I love for other people to make. For some reason, it never seemed like something that would be easy. “Never seemed like something that would be easy?” I make bread and layer cakes and cappuccino fudge cheesecakes. Something being complicated never stopped me before! So I went for it today. I really wanted to try adding lavender to the next lemony thing I made so this was my chance.
Do your friends and family members hate lemon-flavored things? My dad hates anything lemony which is so limiting. Of course, it’s also really funny when a person who doesn’t like lemons gets a lemon-meringue pie in his face on his birthday. (Yeah, that happened. Way to go, Clara.) No lemon-pepper chicken! No lemon cake! No lemon-poppyseed muffins! Shame. Chad usually doesn’t like lemon things, but he tried these lemon bars and actually really liked them. I had to be excited about that.
1 Tbsp (+ 2 pinches) dried lavender flowers
1 1/2 C (+ 4 tsp) flour
1/2 C powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)
3/4 C unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 C lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 350 and get ready to smell lavender! You’re going to find it easiest if you have a spice grinder or coffee grinder. A food processor could work, or you can just use a mortar and pestle. I used Chad’s spice/coffee grinder. It’s awesome. Grind up 1 Tbsp lavender in the grinder. The remaining 2 pinches will be left whole.
Mix together all dry ingredients for the shortbread in a bowl. Add the butter and blend in with a pastry blender (alternatively, you can do all of this in a food processor). It is combined enough when it looks like the picture above.
Now eat a thin mint. Because you worked hard making that dough and your roommate wants to reward you. Now put the dough in a 9×13 pan and press down firmly with your fingers. You want the dough to be even and well pressed. Bake for 20 minutes at 350.
Meanwhile, zest and juice two lemons. You’ll probably have more than a 1/2 C of juice but you can use that for salad dressing or lemon-pepper chicken. Or stick it in the fridge. By the way, do you have lots of fun zesting things? I do. I love it. And I love my microplane zester. It’s delightful and yellow and I got it on sale. Wonderful.
Here is the lineup for the topping. Mix the eggs and sugar until completely combined. Next add the lemon juice and zest and mix well. When the shortbread has baked, pour the topping mixture over the hot shortbread (this is important–don’t let the shortbread cool) and sprinkle on a few lavender flowers. Bake for another 20 minutes (still at 350).
Doesn’t that look yummy? And just ever-so-slightly browned. But you’re gonna have to let them cool. I KNOW. I hate when things have to cool before I can eat them.
Carefully cut the lemon bars into squares (or plain-old rectangles!) and place on a cooling rack. I put paper towels under mine for easy clean up, but you can just wipe the counter instead. Now dust the tops with powdered sugar and arrange on a pretty plate.
Oh my goodness. These are easily the best lemon bars I’ve ever had. The lavender adds a perfectly light, floral aroma and complements the tart lemon. What amazed me most was the yummy shortbread bottom. Usually I’m not a shortbread person but this had just the right texture and floral flavor. And oftentimes lemon bar crusts are super buttery to the point of being greasy, but not these. It’s buttery, but not greasy. Please make these. It gives you an excuse to buy lavender and guys, it’s cheap and makes everything smell awesome. Just do it.