Whole Lemon Ginger Bars

December 13, 2013

Whole Lemon Ginger Bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

"Sometimes, when light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old windows

or an empty convent garden guarded by hemlocks 
and giant firs standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever." 

~ Sometimes, When the Light by Lisel Mueller 

Lemons will always be sultry mid-summer light shining through sheer curtains onto a dark wood floor - a chiming Grandfather's clock, lush ferns, and slow sunsets. My icy fingertips are already nostalgic for warmer days. Thank goodness for lemons, butter, and the throat-tingling heat of fresh ginger.

Whole Lemon Ginger Bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

I made whole lemon bars a few years ago but I wanted to kick things up several flirty notches by adding a punch of fresh ginger. I'm ecstatic with the results! Freshly grated ginger is rubbed into the crust's sugar (the smell is...blissful), and I tossed a small amount of ground ginger into the filling. The overall flavour is intense! Some people found the bars to be *slightly* too bitter - I thought they were sublime. If you're on the fence about using whole lemons, feel free to zest and peel the skin and pith before processing.

This recipe is not for the casual lemon fan - it's galaxies away from your typical humdrum lemon bar. In order to fully appreciate it, one must be passionately in love with the yellow citrus deity. xo

Whole Lemon Ginger Bars | une gamine dans la cuisine
Whole Lemon Ginger Bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

ginger lemon bars
makes about 28-30 bars

for the crust
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (that's 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the filling
2 small-to-medium organic lemons (wash and dry well)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (if you prefer sweeter lemon bars, increase sugar to 2 cups)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks 
6 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Prepare the crust: Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil and butter the entire pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the fresh ginger and granulated sugar. Use your fingertips to rub the ginger into the sugar until it's moist and aromatic. Add the butter and, using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until creamy (about 3-5 minutes). Scrape down the edges of the bowl and add the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt. Beat on med-low speed until just combined. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in any remaining streaks of flour or sugar. Press the dough evenly into prepared pan and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Remove the pan of dough from the fridge and use the tines of a fork to make several holes around the bottom. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the crust is just starting to turn light golden brown. Remove from the oven and place onto a cooling rack as you prepare the filling. Leave the oven set to 350 F.

Prepare the filling: Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, carefully slice the lemons into super-thin slices - removing the seeds as you go. {Note: Discard the tips of each lemon - where the white pith is especially thick.} Place the lemon slices and sugar into a food processor. Run the machine until the lemons are thoroughly puréed (about 2-4 minutes). Add the chunks of butter and process again until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, pulsing between each addition. Finally, add the ground ginger, cornstarch and salt and pulse a few more times until well combined. Pour the filling over partially baked crust (it's okay if the crust hasn't completely cooled off yet).

Bake 35-40 minutes or until the middle of the filling is set and slightly golden on top. Remove the pan from the oven and place onto cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.

Garnish with sifted confectioners' sugar.

Filling inspired by: the smitten kitchen cookbook


  1. If this isn't for the casual lemon fan, then it is for me, my friend. Sublime, indeed.

  2. I've *almost* made Deb's whole lemon bars like 10 times. And then I thought well maybe I could make my own lemon bars (which I did and ended up loving) but I still really want to try her recipe. Your bars are gorgeous and love the ginger element!!!

  3. Very original and delightfully citrusy!



  4. Ah sunshine bars! I want the whole pan to myself ;).

  5. What beautiful words... And these bars look exactly like something I would devour shamelessly :)
    Have a great weekend !

  6. While I am only a casual lemon fan (sorry ;)), my husband is much more intense in his feelings. I might have to give the whole lemon thing a try.

  7. I love the flavor of lemon anytime of year! And it is perfect for Christmas! Yummy!

  8. I love the sound of these bars: lemon and ginger. Fabulous!

  9. that's a great add in ginger.
    I crave the lemons in the summer, something fierce actually, but in winter all I want is peppermint.

  10. Even looking though the screen these bars are heartwarming. I can only imagine the nose tickling ginger and lemon scent if they were in front of me; truly sublime, Valerie!

  11. yum yum yum. this post made my mouth water because i adore citrus and tart things!

  12. I absolutely go nuts for lemon bars! I love how you elevated it to the next level by adding the ginger - what a perfect pairing!!!

  13. your lemon bars look absolutely wonderful - and I do share in your intense feelings for the citrus, how does one not adore it? The ginger in here was a brilliant idea!

  14. I'm yet to make lemon bars. This is quite a beautiful inspiration there. Thanks :) ela


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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