Pink Lemonade Bars

Pink Lemonade BarsI have a love/hate relationship with Facebook’s “On This Day” feature. Yes, it’s fun to see old pictures and moments from my college days, but there’s a dark side to it all. That terrible haircut I’ve blocked from memory? Here it is! Every bad fashion choice I’ve ever made? Displayed prominently on my iPhone screen! What appears to be a solid year of angsty statuses? Just…what?!

Pink Lemonade BarsLast week, I had daily reminders of last year’s vacation to Swans Island, Maine. I am currently sixteen days away from heading up there again and I am so. freaking. ready. Swiping through photos of my friends and me hiking, puzzling, and sunbathing has me going crazy waiting to get out of NYC. Don’t get me wrong—I love living here. I just need a break every once in a while.

The vast majority of our trip pictures from last summer are of the four of us collecting wildflowers and climbing over rocks and floating on inner tubes in the ocean, but there are also a few of my friend Liz and me baking in “our” rustic kitchen. We had a ball working together, and I’m so glad I documented it all on here. Our first effort was a Blue-Razz Pie made with foraged berries, but it’s the Lemon Bars that really have me feeling nostalgic for my favorite island off the coast of Maine. There’s just something about the combination of soft lemon filling and buttery shortbread crust that screams summer, am I right?!

Pink Lemonade BarsToday, I’m taking that classic recipe and combining it with another favorite–Pink Lemonade! These Pink Lemonade Bars are super lemony and delicious, and insanely easy 😊 The whole recipe requires just ten ingredients, and while the filling is just as soft and delicious as a classic lemon bar, it’s much less complicated. Sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks are the heavy lifters here, keeping everything sweet and giving the filling its structure.

Pink Lemonade BarsPink Lemonade BarsPink Lemonade BarsPink Lemonade Bars get their color in two ways. The first is seedless raspberry purée, made from blitzing fresh raspberries in a blender or food processor and then pushing it through a sieve. I know that sounds tedious, but it takes all of five minutes. This will produce about 1/3 cup of purée, although you’ll only need to mix 1/4 cup into the filling.

Pink Lemonade Bars
Raspberry Purée only.
Pink Lemonade Bars
Raspberry Purée and Food Coloring.
You could certainly use only the raspberry purée to color the filling, but the pink may not be very vibrant. I wanted my bars to be a brighter pink, but no amount of raspberry purée by itself seemed to do the trick. Here, I’ve added a tiny amount of pink gel food coloring to achieve a berry color.

Bottom line: whether or not you choose to use food coloring, your bars will still be pink and lemony 😊

Pink Lemonade BarsThese bars bake up quickly, but must cool completely and be chilled before slicing—Pink Lemonade Bars are an excellent make-ahead dessert option. When you’re ready to serve, all you’ll need to do is slice them up and dust them with confectioner’s sugar. Your friends and family will love this twist on an old favorite.Pink Lemonade Bars

Pink Lemonade Bars
makes one 8-inch pan, 9-16 bars

Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

Filling:
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not fat free)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2-3 large lemons)
red or pink food coloring, as desired (optional)
1/4-1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Pour shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Bake 8-10 minutes, until it begins to set.

Make the filling. Place raspberries in a food processor or blender. Process until puréed. Push raspberry purée through a sieve to remove seeds. This should produce about 1/3 cup raspberry purée. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until homogeneous. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk, followed by lemon juice and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of raspberry purée. Pour filling over warm crust. Bake 18-22 minutes, until the center of the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Chill for at least two hours or overnight. Use foil overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars.

Immediately before serving, place a cooling rack over wax paper. Place cut bars on rack. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the tops. Remove to a plate and serve immediately.

Leftover bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Add more confectioner’s sugar as necessary.

Pink Lemonade

 I think the world would be a much happier place if we all stopped for a lemonade break. I mean, think about it.

It’s ten thousand degrees outside. School is starting back up again soon. The holidays are not all that far away.

Yes, I’m thinking about the holidays nearly four months out. Aren’t you?! 😜 

 So, how about instead of thinking about all the stuff we have to do, we pause for a glass of cold lemonade and forget everything for five minutes? Real lemonade, not the powdered stuff that you’ve had in your pantry for two years. Definitely not that. Instead, let’s have perfectly sweet-tart homemade lemonade. And let’s make it pink because it’s just more fun that way.

    Homemade Pink Lemonade takes a little more effort than stirring powder into water, but it is also a million times more delicious. You won’t find any food coloring in the list of ingredients either. Nope. The pink color comes from fresh raspberries!

The recipe starts with making a lemony raspberry syrup. Throw some fresh raspberries, a couple of tablespoons of lemon zest, sugar, and water into a small saucepan, and cook it just until the berries start to fall apart. Let it cool for 30 minutes while you juice a bunch of lemons. Then strain the syrup into a pitcher and stir in the lemon juice and some cold water. Serve it over ice with a few slices of lemon and cute straws, and then relax for five whole minutes. Trust me, your to-do list can wait that long.

 Pink Lemonade
makes about 2 quarts

Syrup:
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 ounces fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (about 2 large lemons)
3/4 cup water

For Assembly:
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (about 10 large lemons)
3 1/2-4 cups cold water
ice

For Garnish (optional):
1 large lemon, thinly sliced

Make the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, raspberries, lemon zest, and water. Cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries are starting to fall apart. Let cool 30 minutes before pushing through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds and pith.
Make the lemonade. In a large pitcher, combine syrup, lemon juice, and 3 1/2 cups cold water. Stir. Taste, and add 1/2 cup more cold water if it’s too tart.

Serve pink lemonade over ice. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.