Hello again! Being on vacation for Spring Break has really left me in a fog. What did you do for Spring Break? Or Easter? What did you cook? What did you bake? Well, I’ll tell you what I made for my family’s dessert–lemon bars! But these are no ordinary lemon bars. They’re full of cheesecake…and LOVE.
I love, love, love making graham cracker crust for lemon desserts as well. There’s just something about them you know? By the way, this recipe is relatively easy. I got it from my most favorite blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction, however, I tweaked just a few things, but not much.
Lemon just seems to be the fruit of spring time, and Easter, and…well, it’s just plain sunny and bright and fun! Lemon makes me happy. It’s my favorite citrus fruit. I could eat lemon all day long. Say, do they still make lemon Jolly Ranchers? Because I could sit and nom on a whole bag– no lie! Oh! I almost forgot to say that I used Meyer lemons for this recipe. They’re smaller, sweeter, a little less tart, have a deeper yellow, almost orange color to them, and they’re a bit pricier than your average lemon, probably because they’re seasonal. However, you can use regular lemons or maybe a combination of both!
This is also a lightened up recipe–although I didn’t go as far as going fat free with the ingredients because of added sugar that can sneak into fat free products, but you may use whatever you’d like (full fat, low fat, etc.)
Also— if you decide to use a juicer for your lemon/lime, great! Otherwise I just used my hands and squeezed the heck out of them! Be sure to watch out for the seeds if they pop out!
I hope you enjoy these delightfully tangy and tart treats! They almost remind me of key lime pie!
So let’s get to baking shall we!?
*NOTE: Make time ahead to let some of your ingredients come to room temperature. They will be easier to work with.
5 hours — (mostly for chilling time)
You will need:
8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan
Small microwaveable bowl
- 3/4 cup low fat graham cracker crumbs (about 5-6 full sheet graham crackers)
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (or melted coconut oil)
- dash of salt
- 6 ounces (about 3/4 of a brick) light Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup nonfat or low fat plain Greek yogurt, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or Splenda!)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice
- 1/2 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/2 Tablespoon lime zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean pod scraped
*Optional: You may serve with fruit on top–berries work great!
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Line the bottom and sides of your square baking pan with aluminum foil. Leave enough overhang on all sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan before cutting. Set aside.
- Making the crust: Put graham crackers into food processor and pulse until you have course crumbs. Add the slivered almonds and salt and pulse again until you have a fine mixture like sand. Melt the butter in your microwaveable bowl, if you haven’t already. Mix the crumbs and melted butter together in a medium bowl until combined. Evenly press the crust into the prepared baking pan. If you use the bottom of a measuring cup to press it in the pan, it helps keep the layer even.
- Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Making the filling: In a large bowl using your electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on high until smooth. On medium speed, beat in the yogurt until combined. Then beat in the eggs and egg yolk until combined. Lastly, beat in sugar, lemon and lime juices, zest, and vanilla until combined and very smooth.
- Pour the filling onto the crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center of the bars is no longer jiggly. You can take the pan out and give it a wiggle to make sure!
- Cool the bars on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or more.
- After chilling completely, carefully lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides. Use a dough scraper or super sharp knife to cut into squares. Be sure to wipe the blade between each cut to ensure neatness. Take your time! Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator, in an airtight container for up to 5 days. But who are we kidding, they won’t last that long because they’re that good!
PS: You can prepare the filling a few days ahead of time if you won’t have the time that day for the chilling. Be sure to keep it in an airtight, chill-able container. You may also prepare the mixture and freeze it a few months ahead. Be sure to let it thaw out overnight before using in your bars!
Yields: 12 bars
Nutrition: According to myfitnesspal.com:
Serving Size- 1 bar
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Carbs: 13 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sugars: 9 g
Protein: 4 g
Weight Watchers Smart Points: 5 per bar