Gingered Lemon Bars

“I can’t wait for you to get here Elise. We can cook! We can make pies and cakes and cookies and more yummy things,” exclaimed my young friend Alden as we were talking on the phone last week.

Between Easter, a Patriots Day parade and museum trips, we finally got a chance to do some baking. Reilly (8) and her sister Alden (6) helped me make scrumptious lemon bars that have candied ginger in the crust from a recipe in a 1987 issue of Gourmet magazine.

To make the bars first you make and pre-bake the shortbread crust with specks of candied ginger. Then you make the lemon filling, pour into the pre-baked crust, and bake again, until the filling has set. The original recipe called for sprinkling the whole thing with powdered sugar, which we didn’t feel was necessary.

Gingered Lemon Bars Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 36 lemon bars.

Ingredients

reilly-grating-lemon.jpg
Reilly grating the lemon

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Method

alden-reilly-mise.jpg
Alden and Reilly
1 Pre-bake the crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter. Add 1/3 cup of sifted powdered sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in half a teaspoon of the lemon zest, the ground ginger, the crystallized ginger, and a pinch of salt. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour in batches, a 1/4 cup at a time, beating after each addition. Continue to beat the crust batter until it is well combined.

2 Spread the crust batter evenly over the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until browned lightly around the edges.

lemon-bars-2.jpg3 While the crust is baking, whisk together the eggs, the lemon juice, the granulated sugar, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, 3 Tbsp of flour, and the baking powder in a medium sized bowl. Whisk until well blended.

4 Pour the lemon batter over the pre-baked crust. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is golden. If you want, sift a little additional powdered sugar over the top. Let the lemon bars cool in the pan on a rack. Cut it into 36 pieces.

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Reilly showing off the lemon bars.

19 Comments

  1. Alanna

    “We can cook!” Gotta love it, from an eight-year old! What fun …

  2. farmgirl

    These look and sound wonderful. I would never have thought of this combination in a bar, though I’ve been drinking ginger and lemon tea for years (and probably even read that issue of Gourmet back in 1987), LOL. Thanks for the recipe. Cute photos, too. Always nice to see the next generation of bakers hard at it! : )

  3. Jennifer

    Hi Elise,
    The lemon bars look fantastic, and your little friends are adorable. One of my favorite things to do as a cook is to pass on my passion to the next generation, and I love to read about others doing the same!

  4. Barbara

    Lemon bars are always great, and I always skip the powdered sugar. It is just not needed.

    I love the idea of the candied ginger in the crust, though–I will definately have to try that!

    The kids are cute–baking with kids is always so much fun….

  5. Astrid

    Lovely post! It’s so nice to see pictures of the children eager to bake with you. This personal touch is what’s great about blogs, and when associated with the professionalism of your posts it makes for delightful reading.

    Did Reilly and Alden like the ginger in the crust? I wish mine were that adventurous! I actually had to leave the pecans out of my girls’ portion when I made butter pecan ice cream… But then they’re younger, so perhaps there’s hope they’ll develop a more sophisticated palate later.

  6. Elise

    Hi Astrid,
    Reilly and Alden loved the lemon bars, candied ginger and all. I know what you mean about the pecans though. Their mom made them some cinnamon buns a month ago and they picked out all the pecans before eating the buns. :-)

  7. sarah

    okay, way to exploit the kids! put them to work!lol!

    they are sooooo cute! and the picture of them – they look like they ARE the mise en place. LOL!

  8. Lindsay

    Hi Elise,
    First I want to say how much I LOVE your blog, it is simply awesome.
    I would really really like to make these BUT where I live (Central Mexico) I cant get either candied ginger or lemons, do you have a suggestions for substitutes? Thanx!

  9. Elise

    Hi Lindsay,
    You could probably try substituting a couple tablespoons of grated fresh ginger for the 1/2 cup of candied ginger. But don’t know what to tell you about the lemons. Can’t make lemon bars without lemons.

  10. Becky

    You could try making lemon bars with orange juice and orange peel.

  11. Lindsay

    Thanks for the suggestions Elise and Becky, I am going to give them a try… I will let you know how my experimenting goes!

  12. Brett

    What a sweet looking bunch of kids. Lemon bars were one of the first things I ever cooked and they are still a favorite. Since I love the combination of lemon and ginger, I can imagine these would become somewhat of an addiction for me.

  13. PatL

    Hi, Elise, I tried your lemon bars and they were a hit! So much so, that I blogged about it today, giving you full credit, of course. Thanks for sharing. Loved your pics of your little friends. :o)

  14. Sarah

    Hi, the lemon bars sound great. What do you do if you don’t have double acting baking powder?

  15. beth

    Pat, there are recipes online for making your own baking powder. If you have these things on hand they’ll do in a pinch! I found myself without baking powder when I just wanted a quick loaf of maple banana bread but had used up all my butter and baking powder! (I used vegetable oil, sour cream and maple syrup instead of butter.)

  16. Olivia

    Hi, this recipe looks gorgeous. Just wondering if I can just use ordinary baking powder? I had a look in the supermarket today for double acting but couldn’t find any. Can’t wait to make these!!
    Thanks

    Good question. Single acting baking powder reacts to moisture to begin its leavening, so once you mix it in your wet mixture, you have to work fast. Don’t let the mixture sit around, get it all in the oven quickly. ~Elise

  17. Olivia

    Hi Elise, I followed your advice about the baking powder and they turned out perfectly! I made them for afternoon tea with friends along with your oatmeal raisin cookies and they were gobbled up! I love your blog it is so special, such beautiful pictures; everything looks so good, I want to make it all! Thanks so much for sharing it!!

  18. Shamima

    Hi! I was just looking through the internet for recipes on my Food’s project for school – and let me tell you, i’ve fallen i love with your site. Its simply amazing! :) I have a question about the bars though – do you need to butter the pan before pouring the crust batter in? I know you didn’t write it, but i’m just double checking because some recipes for lemon bars say that you need to butter the baking dish…. Thank you for sharing these amazing recipes with us! You’re awesome!

    The crust has a lot of butter in it, which melts as the bars cook, so there is no need to butter the pan. ~Elise

  19. Ana

    These are the best lemon bars I’ve ever had! The recipe creates a bar with a perfect texture, almost like a short- bread cookie except the top has a layer of lemon. My friends never had lemon bars because the thought of a citrus and sour ingredient in a dessert did not catch their fancy, tried these and they loved them. These truly are amazing!

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