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Amanda’s Strawberry Lemon Bars

My nieces came over this weekend and my 12 year old niece (who let me tell you looks more like she’s 16) helped me in the kitchen.  Amanda and I made lemon bars topped with strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar, oh and a butter crust.  Yes… it does sound THAT good.

Amanda started by zesting two lemons.  With that zest, she pressed it into the sugar to make lemon sugar.  Oh yes…. lemon sugar.   These lemon bars are tart, full of lemon flavor and so good!   The strawberries were next… Amanda swirled them on top of the lemon layer to make a delicious combination of sweet and tart!

Amanda’s Strawberry Lemon Bars
Makes 9 bars

For the crust:
Scant 1 cup of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon sugar
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsalted cold butter, cut into cubes

For the lemon filling:
2 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, from 2 lemons
zest from two lemons
2 tbsp milk
pinch of salt

For the strawberries:
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, whole
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tbsp corn starch
1/8 cup warm water

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper making sure the paper covers the sides.
  2. Zest the lemon.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the 2/3 cup and 1 tablespoon of sugar from the crust and filling with 2 teaspoons of lemon zest.  Using the back of a spatula, press the lemon into the sugar, releasing the oils and in turn making lemon sugar.  This should take about 2 minutes and the sugar will be very fragrant.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt for the crust.  One at a time, add cubes of butter.  With a fork, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Once all the butter has been added, use your fingers to break up any pieces of butter.  The crust will not come together like a dough.
  5. Press the mixture into the 8×8 pan.  Put in the freezer to cool for 10 minutes then bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. While the crust is baking, prepare the strawberries.  In a medium pot, combine the strawberries, sugar and vanilla over medium high heat.  After all the sugar has melted, use a potatoe masher to mush the berries.  You want some chunks, but mostly juice.  Mix together the corn starch and water until the corn starch dissolves, then pour into the strawberries.   Bring the entire thing to a boil for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and salt in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Then whisk in the lemon juice, zest, and milk.
  8. Pour the lemon filling over the cooked crust.  Dollop spoon fulls of the strawberry mixture on top of the lemon.  Using a knife or spoon, make swirls with the strawberries to incorporate into the lemon.  Don’t over swirl, we want there to still be a strong yellow/lemon color.   (Note: You don’t have to use all the strawberry… use as much or as little as what looks good to you.)
  9. Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees or until it has become solid and is firm to the touch.
  10. Cool completely, cut into squares and dust with confectioners sugar.