Recipe Rescue: Lemon Bars

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Lemon bars are one of my all-time favorite springtime desserts. They're bright in both color and flavor and are a great way to end a meal on an uplifting note. But lemon bars aren't usually as light in calories as they are in appearance. I've tweaked this treat to be just as satisfying, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart for just about 100 calories per serving!

(Scroll to the bottom of the post for a printable PDF version of the recipe)

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Original Recipe (Serves 12)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting
Changes Made:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour: Used combination of ½ cup white whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (adds more nutrients; decreased total flour for a little less crust)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar: Decreased to 1/3 cup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened: Decreased to 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) to cut down on fat and calories
  • Added 1/8 teaspoon salt to bring out flavor when using less sugar and fat
  • Added 1 teaspoon lemon zest to crust for more lemon flavor
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar: Decreased to 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice: Decreased to 1/4 cup to balance tartness with less sugar
  • Added 2 teaspoons lemon zest for more lemon flavor without acidity
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting: Decreased to 2-3 tablespoons

Nutrition Facts Face-Off!

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Lemon Bars (Printable PDF Version)

Makes 16-18 servings


Ingredients

  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (approximate yield from 1 large lemon)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8x8" baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Stir flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in butter and 1 teaspoon lemon zest until crumbly. Press the mixture down evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake the crust until it has puffed up slightly, about 15 minutes.
  3. While crust is baking, prepare filling. Whisk sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, and flour in a medium bowl until smooth. When crust has finished baking, pour the filling mixture evenly over the hot crust.
  4. Return the pan to the oven and bake until set, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 1 hour, then refrigerate for at least another hour before serving.
  5. To serve, cut into squares or triangles with a lightly oiled knife. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Nutrition Facts (1/16 recipe): Calories 105, Total Fat 4g (Saturated 2g), Cholesterol 34mg, Sodium 19mg, Total Carbohydrate 17, Dietary Fiber 1g, Protein 2g, Vitamin A 2% DV, Vitamin C 2% DV, Calcium 0% DV, Iron 2% DV

Today's post was written by Leia Kedem. Leia Kedem, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator covering Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion Counties. She appears weekly on WCIA-3/WCIX-49 and is a biweekly contributor to the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. She also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts where she regularly posts health tips and answers nutrition questions for free.