Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lemon Thyme Bars

I have quite a thing for citrus-y, tangy, tart desserts.  Whether we're talking pie, cakes, ice cream, or any other confectionery delight, my taste buds have a distinct affinity for citrus--particularly lemon.

A few weeks ago while visiting New York, I made my usual pit stop by Magnolia Bakery.  In addition to a decadent slice of Pistachio cake that I ordered to go, my companion and I interrupted the order of the evening and indulged in a little pre-dinner dessert with the most scrumptious and perfectly sweet-n-tart lemon bar.  (We similarly devoured the slice of cake, but only after we finished our dinner, of course.)  

The memory of that lemon bar, in all of its mouth-watering goodness, has remained with me like a sweet dream, so this past weekend as I toggled back and forth on what dessert to bring to my family barbecue, I decided to recreate my own version and savor those flavors up close and personal once more.  Fresh lemon juice and lemon zest deliver an undeniably lemony punch, with a little extra flair via the thyme shortbread crust, finished with a decadent lemon glaze to bring it all together. 

It was a sweet endeavor that filled my kitchen--and weekend--with recent fond memories and one pan of, dare I say, lemon-thyme perfection.  And as far as the barbecue went, everyone raved about how good they were, which is always a wonderful bonus. :)  Once you make them, I'm confident you will, too.

Happy Eating!

Lemon Thyme Bars


1/2 lb. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar 
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

Lemon Layer:
7 large eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish

Lemon Glaze:
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (around the juice of 2 lemons) 
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light. Combine the flour, thyme and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking ban, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Cool to room temperature.

For the lemon glaze, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and lemon juice.  Add more or less sugar and/or juice for desired consistency.  Pour glaze over lemon bars and spread with a spatula to cover evenly.  Allow the glaze to set for at least 20-30 minutes.  Cut into squares and garnish with fresh thyme, if desired.  Serve and enjoy! 
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten



  1. these look amazing! I love the combo of sweet and savory.

  2. HI Dawn. Any thoughts on how soon before an event you could/should prep this?

    Seems like it's not a night-before kind of dessert...tell me I'm wrong!

    1. Hi Julie, I've always made these "same day", however because you have to chill your dough, you can likely do that the night before and resume with the remainder of the recipe (the filling, baking, etc.) when you're ready to serve the next day. Also, the bars store okay, so if you decide to make them the night before, be sure to store them properly for optimum freshness. I don't think you can go wrong. Hope this helps! Enjoy!

  3. I made these for our Easter gathering this year, and they were a huge hit. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!


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