The Country Cook: Luscious Lemon Bars

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Luscious Lemon Bars

The title of this recipe should actually be "Luscious Lemon and White Chocolate Tart."  But, as always with me, there's a story. See, I don't own a tart pan. And this recipe was designed for a tart pan.  If you've never seen a tart pan, it is a very shallow pie pan with short sides that have scalloped edges. I have a very tiny kitchen and not much storage so I have to be careful how many pots and pans and baking stuff that I own. I just don't have anywhere to put all the many different and fun types of cooking and baking items that are out there. But I do have an 8x8 square baking dish.  I think a tart pan really makes this dessert just a little bit more elegant. So, if you have one, make this recipe in a 9" tart pan, but if not, a square baking dish works just fine. They'll just be in a bar shape rather than a slice and the crust will be thicker. It still turned out incredible tasting (even if it didn't look as fancy as the tart pan version.)
Now this particular recipe is a blue ribbon recipe.  It was the runner-up recipe for the 2012 Martha White Muffin Mix challenge and it was created by Michele V. of Libertyville, Illinois.  I had the chance to taste it recently during a trip to Nashville and I fell in love with the lemon flavors.  I absolutely love anything lemon!
photo courtesy of Martha White and J.M. Smuckers

The crust is made with a Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin Mix topped with a creamy white chocolate filling and that is all topped off with a slightly tart lemon curd. Can you say lemon heaven?? The only other change I made to this recipe (besides not baking it in a tart pan) was I made this with vanilla baking chips rather than white chocolate.  White chocolate bars can get on the pricey side.  They are usually sold in 4 oz. sizes and this recipe called for a total of 8 ounces of white chocolate.  Which means I would have to buy two bars.  And that would have cost me over $6 just for the chocolate part of the recipe. And that was more than I wanted to spend since I had other items to buy still to make this. So, I just went with regular ole vanilla baking chips.  I can get a big ole bag for half the cost. And you know what? They worked perfectly! So, I hope Michele will forgive me of the small changes to her recipe. I have included the link to the original, exact recipe as well so y'all could see it in all it's winning glory! This is such a refreshing summertime dish. It would be wonderful for baby and bridal showers too.   Feel free to cut it into smaller pieces than I did.  These bars might be a large serving size for most folks since it is a rich dessert.
1 (7.6 oz.) package Martha White Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin Mix
1/2 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup vanilla chips

1/2 cup Dickinson's lemon curd
white chocolate shavings (optional)
 heavy cream not pictured

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Stir together muffin mix and almonds.
Stir in butter until blended.
Press evenly in the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Push it down with your hands until compacted down evenly into the dish.
Bake for about 15 minutes (until light golden brown).
Pour heavy cream into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin evenly over cream. Allow to stand until softened (about 5 minutes.)
Beat cream cheese in a medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth.
Beat in gelatin mixture at low speed, scraping down sides of bowl just until blended.
Pour into medium nonstick saucepan.
Add in vanilla chips.
Cook on medium-low, stirring frequently until mixture is smooth and melted.
Pour filling over cooked crust.
Refrigerate at least one hour until completely cooled.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, measure out 1/2 cup lemon curd. Microwave on high for about 25-30 seconds until smooth and spreadable.
Spread lemon curd over chilled filling.
Decorate top with chocolate shavings (optional.) Slice into bars and serve.  
I sliced into 9 bars but these pack so much flavor that you could get away with slicing it into 12 bars. 


  1. These look so fresh and summery - love it!

  2. Brandie...I love your stories as much as I love your recipes. Thanks for another great one. And I sympathize with the small kitchen and lack of storage space. Great thinking on adapting one baking dish for another. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you so much Nancy!! Hope you like this one if you try it!

    I wish I had time tonight to bake up a pan! YUM!

    1. Lark, I know you would LOVE this one!

  4. Sounds great but I have never seen lemon curd in my area. Is there anything I could substitute for it?

    1. I live in a small area so I'm always surprised that I can find things at my local shops so you might be surprised that your grocery stores carry it. However, lemon curd is actually very easy to make! Here's a link that shows you how to make it in your microwave! :)

  5. OH MY GOODNESS! Thank you for this recipe it looks SO good!!!!

  6. Ooooo...thanks for reminding me about this wonderful dessert, it was SO GOOD! And I love your bars version!!

    1. I had to make it again because I kept telling everyone about it. So finally I just made it and took it around to everyone's house so they could taste what I had been carrying on about! Hahaa.

  7. Oh YUM!! What a great combo of delicious flavors. And the bars look very elegant, even if they're not baked in a tart pan. Thanks for making everything so simple for the everyday cook. LOVE your header. =) Enjoy a fabulous weekend Friend.

  8. Even in small towns will prpbably carry it (my old hometown is 1500 pop, with 1 grocery), and they carry Dickinson's lemon curd in the jelly aisle. They are an IGA store, so they tend not to order case lots of some items - they get split cases through the grocery co-op. Once, when I was visiting, they were out. Turns out that Food Network had had a recipe using it. Ended up driving 20 miles to the next town to Wally World to find the lemon curd.

  9. Hi, could you please tell me what vanilla chips are? You are not talking about white chocolate chips, are you? Thank you in advance for your reply.


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