I feel like I’ve been throwing freeze-dried strawberries in everything lately, but who can blame me? They’re pretty readily available at your local Target or Trader Joe’s, are consistently tasty, and can be eaten as a snack or pulverized into powder and tossed into anything that you wish to look and taste like summer. You know, like these Strawberry Lemon Bars.
These are simply Lemon Bars with two tablespoons of pulverized strawberry powder in the filling and a tiny bit more in the confectioner’s sugar topping. Seriously, that’s it—no other changes. Easy peasy.
The primary flavor here is lemon, but there’s just a *little* hint of strawberry—think something akin to pink lemonade. It’s a subtle thing, to be sure, but it’s there and it’s delicious.
The color, as you can see is anything but subtle. It’s bright as can be, in fact, and I totally dig it. I mean, why make another batch of regular old lemon bars when you can add one ingredient and get to show up to the party/picnic/cookout/your couch with these gems? I think we can call agree that pink, summery desserts just taste better.
Strawberry Lemon Bars
makes 16 bars
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
Strawberry Lemon Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
2 tablespoons pulverized freeze-dried strawberries, from about 1/2 cup pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 3 medium lemons
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 drop red food coloring (optional)
3-4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pulverized freeze-dried strawberries (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with parchment or aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides for removal. Grease again. Set aside.
Make the shortbread crust. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Mixture will be very crumbly and dry. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and use your fingertips to press it into one even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack for a few minutes while you prepare the filling.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, lemon zest and pulverized strawberry powder. Use your fingertips to rub zest and powder into sugar until combined. Mix in all-purpose flour and salt. Whisk in lemon juice, followed by eggs and egg yolk, and melted butter. Add food coloring, if using. Mixture will be thin.
Pour filling over the shortbread crust. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until center is set. Let cool completely on a rack before chilling for at least four hours.
Use the foil overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel parchment (or foil) from the edges. Use a large, sharp chef's knife to slice bars.
In a small bowl, stir together confectioner’s sugar and pulverized strawberry powder. Sift confectioner's sugar over the tops of the bars before serving.
Serve bars immediately or refrigerate for up to three days. Confectioner’s sugar will degrade over time—this can be remedied by sifting more over the tops.