Ward off the rainy spring blues with these bright and cheery Lemon Raspberry Bars.
A few weeks ago, I found myself complaining to my husband about yet another gloomy, rainy spring day. It’s APRIL! It’s supposed to be sunny! Where are my hopeful blossoms? Why am I still wearing a sweater? Why does it feel like 7 PM at 11 in the morning?
We often joke about dreary weather, but I find it has serious impacts on my mood, especially when we’re faced with what feels like 50 days of gray. (See what I did there? The weather even makes my puns bad). After muddling through yet another afternoon comprised of half-hearted work interrupted by long spells of scrolling through sunny vacation pics on Pinterest, I decided it was time.
I looked up the extended forecast for one of our favorite sunny destinations–Charleston, SC. There were a lot of clip art suns in the forecast. Then I went to AirBnB and searched for a cozy, cheap little place we could call home for a week. I presented my case to the hubby, thinking he’d probably turn me down. We usually book our vacations months in advance after thoroughly debating locations, searching for places to stay, and looking for the best deals.
This year, the hubby must’ve been feeling the spring blues just as much as me, because his answer was an immediate, “YAAAAAAS!” I didn’t wait around to let him change my mind. We booked the place, and that’s how we find ourselves in sunny, 70 degree Charleston, South Carolina this week.
Before we packed our bags and headed out of town, I did my best to practice some gloomy-spring self care. I filled our house with cheap and colorful bouquets from Trader Joe’s, turned on some Colbie Caillat to channel my inner beach vibes, and made several batches of lemon bars.
The first time I made these, I think I made them a tad too puckery (thanks for being my guinea pigs on that first batch, community group!), although die hard lemon lovers might appreciate that extra Tablespoon or two of lemon juice.
These lemon bars are pretty standard, but I find this version has a nice crust to filling ratio. If you’re like me, you always appreciate a good thick buttery shortbread crust! It also has enough lemon juice to be tart and refreshing without being so sweet your fillings want to jump out of your teeth. The filling is a tad more gooey/creamy than some other bars I’ve tried, which I actually really enjoy.
The only other change I made was dotting the filling with whole, fresh raspberries. It’s just another little sign of spring, a colorful and hopeful surprise tucked into every other bite. These bars are really pretty simple to make and are a welcome sight on a dreary day. I suppose the saying should actually be, “If life hands you a gloomy spring day and you also happen to have some lemons, make lemon bars.”
For the crust:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
For the filling:
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pint fresh raspberries, rinsed and dried
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan with butter or shortening.
- To make the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes then add them to the bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour, working the dry ingredients into the butter until the mixture is in small, sandy clumps. Pour the mixture into the greased pan, spreading it evenly to the edges. Use your fingers to pat it down until smooth and firm. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, and continue to beat until light and creamy. Add the flour, baking powder, lemon juice, and salt. Beat on low speed until just combined.
- When the crust is removed from the oven, spread the raspberries evenly over the top. Gently pour the filling over top of the raspberries and the warm crust. Bake for an additional 18-20 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly.
- Allow the bars to cool, refrigerate for 1-2 hours, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve. Bars can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 3 days, but are best enjoyed within 24 hours.