Is there any more iconic citrus dessert than lemon bars? From their crisp shortbread crust and gooey lemon curd to their snow-dusted powdered sugar topping, they are a symphony of textures, colors, and flavors. A new twist on a classic dessert, these raspberry lemon bars feature playful magenta swirls of tart raspberries.
There are many opinions about the perfect lemon bar, from the balance of tart and sweet to the ratio of lemon curd to shortbread. After many tests, these raspberry lemon bars take the following stance on shortbread, curd, and ratio:
- Shortbread: Crisp and buttery, with enough integrity to stand up to soft lemon curd while still maintaining tender flakiness
- Curd: Thick, deeply lemony curd with puckery tartness, notes of sweetness, and a 50/50 ratio of lemon to raspberry
- Ratio: A balance with one part shortbread to two parts lemon and raspberry curd
Making the Shortbread
There are two main techniques for making shortbread—cold butter versus melted butter pulsed into dry ingredients. Both result in a beautiful shortbread, but melting the butter tends to result in a more tender, crisper crust. When making the shortbread crust for these raspberry lemon bars, make sure not to overwork the dough. Simply add the melted butter, then toss together with a fork until no dry spots remain. The shortbread dough should be crumbly! It will come together as you press it into the pan, and this is part of what helps keep the crust flakey and tender.
How to Make the Perfect Lemon Curd
If you’ve ever made lemon curd before, you know that it can be a bit tricky. And, there is almost nothing worse than laboring over lemon curd only to have it never set. This recipe for raspberry lemon bars makes use of a few techniques to ensure your curd is flawless every time, resulting in luscious raspberry lemon bars that are perfectly set. Here are a few tricks to making the perfect lemon curd:
- Eggs: By using a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks, you’ll achieve a thicker, richer lemon curd.
- Flour: Flour acts as a stabilizer in the curd for these raspberry lemon bars, adding a layer of support so you don’t have to be too technically fussy.
- Temperature: Lemon curd sets at around 170° Fahrenheit. Having a thermometer handy helps guarantee you’ve reached the right temperature before the bars even go in the oven. If you don’t have a thermometer, watch for the curd to be thick enough for the whisk to create visible indentations.
- Whisking: Constant whisking is a must! It makes sure the curd is smooth and the eggs don’t cook on the bottom of the pan.
After you’ve made the curd, these raspberry lemon bars come together quite quickly. Mix half with a knob of butter and the other half with fresh mashed raspberries. Bake, chill, and slice for an on-repeat summer treat. Note: if you aren’t using a microplane zester to finely zest your lemons, you’ll want to strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve.
Serving the Raspberry Lemon Bars
Generously dust your raspberry lemon bars with powdered sugar and a few grates of fresh lemon zest to finish. The visual contrast of the powdered sugar is stunning, and the lemon zest adds bright contrast to the cooked, sweet lemon curd that’s as beautiful as it is delicious. Serve right away!
More Lemon Recipes
- Brown Butter Lemon Pepper Salmon
- Lemon Pancakes With Homemade Buttermilk Syrup
- Spinach Artichoke Dip With Panko & Lemon
- Olive Oil Cake With Lemon & Brown Butter Buttercream
Raspberry Lemon Bars
Katie Calton PrintServings: 16squaresPrep Time: 15minsCook Time: 1hrResting Time: 2hrsTotal Time: 3hrs15minsDifficulty: IntermediateWith swirls of raspberry cascading through bright, creamy lemon curd, these tart and fruity raspberry lemon bars are the ideal balance of tangy lemon, sweet fruit, and crisp, buttery shortbread.
- 1 ½cupsall-purpose flour
- ⅓cupgranulated sugar
- ½teaspoonkosher salt
- 8tablespoonsunsalted butter, melted
Raspberry & Lemon Curd
- 1cupgranulated sugar
- ¼cupall-purpose flour
- ¼teaspoonkosher salt
- 2large eggs
- 8egg yolks
- 2tablespoonslemon zest, about 3 lemons
- 1cupfresh lemon juice, about 4-6 lemons
- 6 ouncesraspberries
- 2tablespoonsunsalted butter
- Powdered sugar and extra lemon zest, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit and prepare a 9×9 baking dish with parchment. Trim two sheets of parchment paper to just fit the dish, with about 1-inch of overhang on each side. Layer them perpendicular atop each other, and set aside.
- Make the shortbread by adding the flour, sugar, and salt to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together with a fork, then add the melted butter and toss together until combined. The mixture should be slightly crumbly. Add the shortbread dough to the prepared baking dish, then use your hands to press it into an even layer across the bottom of the pan. Transfer the shortbread to the oven and par-bake until the edges are deeply golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Raspberry & Lemon Curd
- While the shortbread bakes, make the raspberry and lemon curd. In a saucepan off heat, add the sugar, flour, and salt and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and egg yolks, then whisk until the mixture is completely smooth with no streaks of egg remaining. Add the lemon zest, then slowly whisk in the lemon juice. Transfer the pan to the stove over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the curd thickens and reaches a temperature of 170° Fahrenheit—about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl, mash the raspberries with a fork. Pour half of the lemon curd * into the bowl with the raspberries and whisk until totally combined. Pour the raspberry curd into the par-baked shortbread and spread in an even layer. Cut the butter into small pieces, then add it to the same bowl you used for the raspberry curd. Pour the rest of the lemon curd into the bowl with the butter and whisk the butter into the lemon curd until smooth and glossy. Pour into the pan atop the raspberry curd, and using the spatula or a spoon, gently swirl to marble the raspberry curd with the lemon curd.
- Return the pan to the oven and bake until the center barely jiggles and the edges are slightly puffed, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature for 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator and chill for an additional 1-2 hours. Using the overhanging parchment, remove the lemon bars from the pan and dust liberally all over with powdered sugar until completely coated, then grate extra lemon zest directly over the bars. Slice into 16 squares, wiping the knife clean after every slice to ensure clean, even cuts.
- 1 microplane zester
- 1 Instant read thermometer
*If you aren’t using a microplane zester to finely zest your lemons, you’ll want to strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve, pressing with a spatula to prompt the curd through the strainer, before combining with the mashed raspberries and/or butter.
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