This time of year, I need a little pick-me-up on a fairly regular basis. Whether it’s eating a truffle while I stare out at a snowy landscape, reading under a fuzzy blanket, or cuddling with any child of mine who is willing to let me squeeze them for a few minutes, it’s super important to relish the hibernating aspect of winter.
Every now and then, I also like to bake a summery dessert to raise the brightness in the kitchen. Nothing is more summery to me than citrus, especially anything yellow. So these Meyer lemon pie bars are perfect for cheering up the landscape!
If you’ve never used a Meyer lemon, you need to try it out. They’re rounder, smaller and sweeter than regular lemons, with a much thinner skin. And while they don’t have as high an acidity level as regular lemons, they can still be used in savory dishes. I made a Cornish hen the other night and put half a Meyer lemon in its cavity while squeezing the other half over the skin. It turned out really well.
For baking, of course, Meyer lemons are ideal. If you can’t find any, though, don’t sweat it. This recipe can be made with regular lemon. But when given the choice, go Meyer!
These bars are a riff on a classic key lime pie. If you’ve had a good key lime pie, then just picture that filling, but with Meyer lemons. I also prefer my pie in bar form. It’s easier to eat, more portable, and you can have more servings without feeling like you’re overdoing it.
When it comes to the graham cracker crust, I melt white chocolate into the base to contrast more sharply with the tang of the citrus. The sweetness of the crust against the filling is pretty dramatic.
And this recipe is astonishingly easy, not to mention a real crowd-pleaser. Lemon is the dark horse of baking. It’s more addictive than chocolate, though nobody realizes that until they’re eating their third lemon pie bar square. I dare you to eat just one!
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1-2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
2 egg yolks
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free)
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8 x 8 square pan with foil, using enough to hang over the sides. Coat with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and white chocolate. Stir until smooth. Mix in the graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar until the crumbs are moist. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, being sure that you pack the crust tightly with your fingers.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes until set.
- While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Combine the zest, Meyer lemon juice, and egg yolks. Stir in the condensed milk and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 20-25 minutes until set.
- Allow the bars to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least two hours (overnight is better). When you’re ready to serve, cut into squares!