If you’re a fan of citrusy delights and creamy textures, then get ready to treat your taste buds to a burst of sunshine with these irresistible lemon cream cheese bars. With a buttery shortbread crust, tangy lemon filling, and creamy cheesecake layer, these bars strike the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Whether you’re hosting a brunch, craving a midday pick-me-up, or simply want to indulge your sweet tooth, these lemon cream cheese bars are sure to delight. Join me as we embark on a journey to create these delectable treats right in your own kitchen.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

For the Shortbread Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt

For the Lemon Filling:

  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the Cream Cheese Layer:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crafting Your Lemon Cream Cheese Bars:

Step 1: Prepare the Shortbread Crust: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). In a mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour and salt, mixing until a crumbly dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking pan.

Step 2: Bake the Crust: Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake the crust for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.

Step 3: Make the Lemon Filling: In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, granulated sugar, eggs, and flour until smooth and well combined. Pour the lemon filling over the partially baked crust, spreading it into an even layer.

Step 4: Prepare the Cream Cheese Layer: In another bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture over the lemon filling.

Step 5: Swirl and Bake: Use a knife or spatula to gently swirl the cream cheese mixture into the lemon filling, creating a marbled effect. Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is just slightly jiggly.

Step 6: Cool and Chill: Remove the pan from the oven and allow the bars to cool completely at room temperature. Once cooled, transfer them to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours, or until firm.

Step 7: Slice and Serve: Once chilled, slice the lemon cream cheese bars into squares or rectangles. Serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream, if desired. Enjoy!

Tips and Variations:

  • For an extra burst of citrus flavor, try adding a teaspoon of lemon extract to the cream cheese layer.
  • Feel free to customize the crust by adding a tablespoon of lemon zest or a splash of lemon extract for a subtle lemony twist.
  • These bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving for the best texture and flavor.

With their buttery shortbread crust, tangy lemon filling, and creamy cheesecake layer, these lemon cream cheese bars are a true delight for the senses. Whether enjoyed as a sweet treat with your morning coffee or as a decadent dessert after dinner, these bars are sure to brighten any occasion. So, gather your ingredients and get ready to indulge in a little slice of sunshine with these irresistible lemon cream cheese bars. Your taste buds will thank you!