Whole Lemon Bars

May 29, 2011

The Dr. House of lemon bars. Did you read the title? We're not taking just the juice and zest here, there's an entire acerbic lemon inside these babies. And, after hearing a song that I haven't heard in years, I think at least some of my lemon adoration can be explained. Excited? Thought so. :D

Among the numerous records that my mother played as I was growing up, my favourites were those by Neil Diamond, The Mamas & the Papas, Joan Baez, and Peter Paul & Mary. To this day, I love them all. No one has the soothing, sultry voice of Neil Diamond, the perfect harmonization of The Mamas & the Papas, or the heartfelt ache of Joan Baez. And no song will be able to bring me to tears (even in my 30's), the way "Puff, the Magic Dragon" can. I remember my mom crying whenever she heard that song, even when I was still only six or seven. When I asked her why she was crying, she said 'because of time, and how quickly it passes, and how fast you're growing up." You can imagine how traumatizing it was when my sister and I started college.

That first year of college, I made sure that my CD collection included all of the artists I grew up with. On one particularly stormy, spring evening, while studying cramming for finals, the song "Lemon Tree" by Peter Paul & Mary came on. For some reason it acted like a release valve. My roommate hoped off her loft bed, I carefully removed myself from the wobbly, 'please-don't-tip-over' papasan, and we ran outside, barefoot and crazy. A few other girls from the dorm soon joined us and we just laughed and ran around like wild little children. It was such an insignificant, impromptu moment in time, yet it was one of the best times of my life. I don't think I'd ever been able to just let go like that before, or since. Every year, around this time, when the air is stormy, humid, and bursting with promise, I'm taken back to that night and how excited and happy we all felt. Yesterday the song "Lemon Tree" played on the radio and it was an audio slingshot back in time. I could smell the rain, feel the warm breeze and the promise of a wide-open future. It's amazing how music has the power to transport us so rapidly to an exact moment from the past. "Lemon Tree", what a deliciously fabulous song. I'm sure it may have a little something to do with my lemon obsession.

One of my favourite recipes, ever, is Dorie Greenspan's tartest lemon tart. Why? Because it calls for the entire lemon--juice, zest, skin...everything! It's every lemon lovers paradise. So when I saw this recipe, which also calls for the entire lemon, of course I had to make it. Now I know that some of you may be sick of lemon this, and lemon that, especially of lemon bars in general. But these babies are a step...nay, a leap, up from all the rest. They're lemon x 100, lemon on speed, lemon with no apologies, the Dr. House of lemons. Because of that, they're not for everyone. Only the hard-core lemon head will find these irresistible. Others may be turned off by their twangy, tart, almost-bitter aftertaste. But, fellow lemon worshipers, you will fall head over heels in love after one bite, and you may not want to ever go back to those other sweet, demure bars.

The poor "Lemon Tree" lemons would have been more than happy to be reincarnated into this recipe.

Whole Lemon Bars (adapted from David Lebovitz) Print

Crust ingredients
1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (that's 1 stick) of melted unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract

Filling ingredients

1 lemon, organic or unsprayed

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 large eggs, room temperature

4 teaspoons corn starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, leaving a slight overhang around the edges. Lightly spray and set aside.
Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt, melted butter, and almond extract. Stir just until the lumps are gone (try not to over-mix.)
Smooth the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Use lightly floured hands to press in into an even layer as possible.

Bake the crust for 20- 25 minutes, or until just beginning to turn golden brown. Prepare the filling as the crust bakes.

Filling: Slice the lemon in half, remove the seeds, and cut the lemon into chunks (don't worry about making them uniform.)

Put the chunks in a food processor or blender along with the sugar and lemon juice, and let it run until the lemon is completely broken up. Add the eggs, corn starch, salt, and melted butter. Blend until almost smooth. (It's ok to have a few visible bits of lemon.)

When the crust comes out of the oven, reduce the heat of the oven to 300ºF.
Pour the lemon filling over the hot crust and bake for 20- 25 minutes, or just until the filling stops jiggling and is barely set.

Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack, and let cool completely.
Once cool, use the foil overhang to gently lift the bars out of the pan.
Cut the bars into squares or rectangles. Sift powdered sugar over the top just before serving, if desired.


  1. Wow, these bars look amazing!! Creamy and lemony, yum! And I LOVE the new look of your blog, great job!

  2. Those bars look so luscious! One of my favorite treats.



  3. I am drooling, looks so good and moist!

  4. These just look sensational!!! I love the look of the thick lemony layer. I can't believe it uses all of the lemon as well. That's great.

    PS. I really like the way you've written this post as well.

  5. yummy, I used to make tart with mango and it really taste good, I would love to try it with lemon like this one.

  6. Hi Raquel,
    Wow, a mango tart sounds delicious!! :D

  7. I will never be sick of either "lemon this" or "lemon that". What an incredible lemon bar. Don't stop posting your wonderful citrus recipes!

  8. Lemon Bars are one of my favourite desserts. They're so refreshing!

  9. This made my tongue swirl. I bet the taste is tandy and good

  10. I love lemon, so these would be perfect in my book! I've only tried a whole lemon pie once and it was not a success, but I might have to try again. Oh, and my first cat's name was Puff, after that song.

  11. Mary, that's adorable! What a great name for a cat.

  12. That is absolutely stunning! Wow. Love it.


  13. I love lemon and these are georgeous!! gloria

  14. my mouth is salivating -- seriously, dangerously -- my goodness, this looks DELICIOUS! :D

  15. That is gorgeous. Love the tape effect on your pictures!

    It's a David Lebovitz recipe, so ofcourse it's amazing.


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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