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Mini Lemon Bars

June 2, 2013

The word is out that I love to bake. And frankly, it definitely works to my advantage. When calling to schedule any type of medical appointment or ordering supplies of any kind, it’s a very common thing to be stuck in Hades Hold listening to painful music designed to tame the potential raging beast in you (too bad it usually has the opposite effect). Bringing an unexpected plate of  homemade fudgy brownies or chocolate chip cookies to local places can do wonders for putting yourself up on the radar. Smacks a bit of bribery? Hmmm… maybe. But only of the gentlest, most harmless and delicious type.

And it works. The last batch of brownies delivered to the bureaucracy-beleagured dialysis clinic was very well-received. It even had Fred, the stockperson, confide quietly to me, “The brownies were great, but you know what I really love? Lemon Bars!”

Fred’s a nice guy, so I thought I’d surprise him the next time. I called to schedule an appointment. “Will Fred be in tomorrow?” “Er, no,” stammered the receptionist, “he no longer works for ——.” In true corporate style, we’ll never know why or where he went. I wonder if his secret request was overheard. Well Fred, wherever you are, I hope you get someone to make you lemon bars. Maybe these.

tree-picked lemons

tree-picked lemons

Using the food processor is the easiest way to make the lemon bar crust.

using the food processor

chilled butter and flour mix

Set up two-way parchment paper in pan (see recipe) to avoid headaches later.

parchment paper in pan No Kneed to Knead

Simply press dough into pan with fingers.

pat dough into pan

a very big lemon barIn Parchment Paper We Trust

One Giant Lemon Bar Out of the Baking Dish – Hurray!

bite-sized lemon barsBite-sized lemon bars

mini-lemon barsEver-so-slightly larger mini lemon bars

Cut these lemon bars up small – vary the sizes if you like, to make mini bars or bite-sized bars. When you’ve got a rich dessert like this, a little bit goes a long way. Serving them in paper cupcake liners keeps things tidy and encourages single helpings. Okay, not so sure about the second part.

mini and bite-sized lemon bars

Mini Lemon Bars

slightly adapted from Christopher Kimball’s The Dessert Bible



1 3/4 c. (400 g.) flour
1/3 c. (80 g.) confectioner’s sugar
3/4 t. salt
12 T. (1 1/2 sticks) (180 g.) unsalted butter, cool, cut into small pieces

Lemon Curd:

4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. (220 g.) sugar
2 t. lemon zest
3 T. flour
pinch of salt
2/3 c. (160 ml.) lemon juice (from 2 or 3 lemons), strained
1/4 c. milk (60 ml.) (I used low-fat)
2 T. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled


To prepare the crust, lightly grease (with spray or a tiny bit of butter) the bottom of a 9″ by 13″ baking dish and line with a sheet of parchment paper long enough to go up and over the sides of the long side of the dish. Lightly grease the paper and line with a second sheet of paper, long enough to go up and over the sides of the short side of the dish. This help you get the bars out in one piece later on for cutting.

Get out that food processor. Pulse flour, sugar and salt in the food processor fitted with steel blade. To keep the butter from getting too warm, cut it in little pieces first and chill for a few minutes. Add butter and process for 10 seconds and then pulse a few times until the mixture is pale yellow and looks like coarse meal.

Sprinkle mixture into prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers all over the bottom in an even layer and about a half-inch up the sides. The dough is very soft and it’s fine if it’s not uniform up the sides. It will look fine after baking.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake crust 20-25 minutes, until light golden brown.

For the lemon filling, whisk eggs, sugar and zest in a medium bowl. Whisk in flour and salt. Stir in lemon juice, milk and slightly cooled melted butter to blend well.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C). Stir filling one more top and pour into hot crust. Bake until filling begins to feel firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Don’t overbake, filling hardens quickly.

Transfer pan to cooling rack and cool for 30 minutes. Pull on the long sides of the parchment paper (this is where the advance planning works for you) to remove entire bar from the pan in one piece. Place on cutting board or counter.

Cut into mini squares, about 32-40 pieces. Serve in paper muffin cups for easy handling. Each piece should deliver a couple of bites, perfect for this rich and scrumptious dessert.

Mini Lemon bars


From → Desserts, Fruit

  1. Hannah, Israel permalink

    Oh, I felt bad about Fred. I hope he left for good reasons.
    I love lemon bars and don’t make them often enough. will do my best to get to them (my list is ever growing..)

  2. Laurel permalink

    These really do look delicious and the cupcake papers are a great idea. I have also done my share of bribery by baked goods. My family seems to specialize in creating a certain level of havoc when one of us his hospitalized, and I have made it a habit to try to ameliorate the damage and keep personell on our side by bringing in baked goods. It never hurts and seems to encourage a certain level of goodwill.

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