I’m not known for my self-control around desserts (or any food, for that matter) in general, but there are a few extreme cases. One is lemon. I almost never make lemon desserts, because I will eat them, all, until they’re gone, within a very short period of time. The other, which I only realized recently, is cheesecake. When I made cheesecake in a mini muffin pan, I had no resistance to grabbing just one more tiny cheesecake.
And then I saw this recipe, which is a combination of those two things. I was in trouble. I made them for the SuperBowl, thinking that was as good an excuse as any to overeat.
Except I didn’t overeat them. Because surprisingly, these did not knock my socks off.
The base is a standard shortbread lemon bar base. The filling is similar to a regular lemon bar, including lemon juice, zest, eggs, and sugar, but includes cream cheese and sour cream, and leaves out the baking powder included in most lemon bar recipes.
Of course they were good – there’s no way to go wrong with this combination of ingredients. But other than a texture that was a little creamier, I didn’t notice a significant difference between this and a regular lemon bar. The difference in fat content, however, is significant. It looks like I’ll be keeping my lemon bars and my cheesecake separate.
One year ago: Julia Child’s French Bread
Lemon Cream Cheese Bars (adapted from recipezaar)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup (3.6 ounces) unbleached flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
10 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup (3.5 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
5 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar for dusting
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until creamy. Add sugar and salt and mix until it’s thoroughly combined. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix on low until the mixture forms large curds. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of an ungreased 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set it on a cooling rack while you finish the filling.
2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the cream cheese for 2 minutes, until it’s completely smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, and lemon zest and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the sour cream and lemon juice and beat the mixture on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until the filling is smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds. Spread the topping evenly over the cooked crust. It’s okay if the crust is still hot.
3. Bake the bars until the top is slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 1 hour. If the topping bubbles up during baking, prick the bubbles with a toothpick or a thin knife.
4. Allow the bars to cool completely on a rack. Dust them with powdered sugar. Cut them with the point of a thin sharp knife that is dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each cut.