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zesty lemon bars

by Jackie Newgent  |  October 28, 2012  |  0 Comments

zesty lemon bars

(Click on photo for full-size image!)

Makes 24 servings: 1 bar each

My latest cookbook, 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes (Wiley, October 2012), has hit the shelves! I’m so excited for you to see it. So this “tasteover” comes to you directly from the pages … giving you a sweet eat to tempt your palate.

As for the recipe … I’m sharing these luscious lemony bars with you specifically because one of my culinary class participants requested a better-for-you lemon bar recipe after she was enticed by one she found in Fine Cooking magazine. My version is divine with a just-right amount of butter and no heavy cream. One of the sweet secrets: a mashed banana in the shortbread cookie-style crust. It’s a deep, rich, golden sweet-tart treat. Happy “trick-or-treat” day!

Calories Saved: 90

3 lemons
2 cups sifted whole-wheat pastry flour
3⁄4 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 small or 1⁄2 large fully ripened banana, mashed
4 large eggs
1 1⁄4 cups turbinado sugar
1⁄8 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Finely grate the zest from one of the lemons. Set aside.
  3. Juice all the lemons. Reserve 1⁄2 cup of the juice; set aside.
  4. Whisk together 1 3⁄4 cups of the flour and 3⁄4 cup of the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add the butter, banana, and lemon zest and stir until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs in a large bowl for 1 minute.
  6. Stir together the sugar, salt, and the remaining 1⁄4 cup flour in a medium bowl until well mixed.
  7. Add the sugar mixture to the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the lemon juice and whisk to combine.
  8. Pour the lemon mixture over the warm bars and return to the oven.
  9. Bake until the bars are set, about 25 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a rack, then chill.
  10. Cut around the edges of the pan and cut into 24 bars. Just before serving, dust with the remain­ing tablespoon powdered sugar through a fine-mesh strainer or sifter, and serve.

Per serving: 130 calories, 4g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 40mg cholesterol, 25mg sodium, 23g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 15g sugars, 2g protein

Reprinted with permission from 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes by Jackie Newgent, RD (Wiley, 2012)


The “Before” Recipe

lemon bars

Here’s the Lemon Bars recipe from Fine Cooking:


Tasteover Tips

  1. Use a just-right amount of butter. Consider using about ¼ less in a recipe. Boost flavor when you do this, such as with lemon zest or pure extracts.
  2. Go for a less processed sugar when you can. Turbinado sugar here provides more depth of flavor and a richer color.
  3. Consider using whole-wheat pastry flour in place of all-purpose flour–one for one–for more whole grain goodness.
  4. Need a little more moistness? Sometimes fruit is the answer. Banana works in this recipe since it provides the right texture. Plus the lemon of the recipe is bright enough that you won’t taste banana; you will detect lusciousness.


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