You know you’ve got a hit on your hands when you take a dessert to work and almost everyone tells you it’s the best you’ve made so far. I made these Lemon Cranberry Pie Bars for a coworker’s birthday and they were such a huge hit! If you’re a dessert lemon lover, especially the tart kind, you’ll go bonkers over these. I love the addition of cranberry, which is perfect for Thanksgiving coming up. The crust tastes like pie crust, but there’s no rolling! It’s a press-in-the-pan crust, so it couldn’t be easier.
So, how’s it taste?
I love me some tart lemon desserts and this one ranks right up there in probably my top best three lemon desserts. It’s not exactly a lemon curd (since there’s no butter), but it’s pretty close. The lemon filling is super tart and ooey gooey. I love when the bars are at room temperature and the filling starts to ooze out. You can serve these at room temperature or straight out of the fridge. They hold up more straight out of the fridge, but the crust is a bit harder that way. The crust tastes like a pie crust, but it’s so easy to make. Mix it in a stand mixer, dump the crust in a pan, press it out. That’s it!
The cranberry swirl makes this bar so pretty and takes the flavor to another level. It’s still tart, but gives a note of sweetness, too. I forgot to finish it with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, but that would make these very fancy! I’m usually the girl that fishes out the middle piece on bar cookies and brownies, but on these the crust was so good that I ate all the corner pieces. This recipe is a winner!
Yield: 24 bars
Lemon Cranberry Pie Bars
2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour sifted with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup cranberries
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 cup water
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter with the sugars at medium speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer at low speed, beat in the sifted flour-and-salt mixture.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on the 2 long sides. Transfer the dough to the pan and press it over the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the side all around. (You can cover the dough with plastic wrap and press with the bottom of a measuring cup.) Be sure the corners are not too thick. Refrigerate until firm.
3. Bake the crust for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown; halfway through baking, use the back of a spoon to smooth the sides and corners of the crust. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool before filling.
4. When ready to make the filling, preheat the oven to 350°. In a saucepan, simmer the cranberries with 1/4 cup of the sugar, the cloves and water over moderately low heat until the berries pop and the liquid thickens, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain and press the puree through a fine sieve set over a bowl and let cool completely.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sugar with the eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour.
6. Mix 1 cup of the lemon filling into the cranberry puree; pour the rest of the lemon filling into the crust. Swirl in the cranberry-lemon mixture. Bake for 35 minutes, or until set. Transfer the pan to a rack; let cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.