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Raspberry Lemon Bars

  So, you remember that discussion about how I didn't like chocolate crinkle cookies for the longest time?  How I thought they were all the same?

  Well, let's just throw lemon bars into that category.  Aaannd then let me remove those as well.  And perhaps let me further confess that I was, again, wrong.  Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

  Not that surprising, really.  I've had my eye on these bars since I first saw them pop up in the blogosphere.  And I knew, I just knew that I would love them.

  I mean, if you were to offer me a lemonade, or a raspberry lemonade, I'd totally go after the latter.  I love it, so much.  Put that into bar form, and I'm one happy girl.

  These aren't too sweet, but no too tart.  Plus, they're pink.  Naturally and beautifully pink.  What more could you really ask for?

  Anyway, I'm glad I finally got the chance to make these.  The Sundays with Joy schedule called for Joy's Lavender Lemon Bars this week, and I decided it couldn't hurt to tweak things a bit.  And by tweak, I mean barely adapting this crust to match Joy's, and then using a totally different filling recipe.

  Kind of a stretch, but I couldn't be happier with the results!

  Maybe I'll try out the lavender ones when I have people in the house brave enough to eat them.  I like lavender alright, but it's definitely an acquired taste.  One my family doesn't really have.  But!  I've heard good things from the other members, and Carrie turned hers into a loverly tart!

  I guess these are a bit more suitable to a summer setting, and they're definitely making me yearn for such, but why wait months and months?  The raspberries are frozen, and citrus abounds right now!  And, hey, they're pink.  I'm thinking Valentine's Day is covered.

  Make them, love them, share them.  Everyone needs a bit of pink lemonade in January.

Raspberry Lemon Bars
Yield: about 24-30 bars

Ingredients for the crust:
  • 2¼ sticks (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp. salt

Ingredients for the raspberry lemon layer:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (I used a 12 oz. bag) frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 small lemons)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting, if desired

To make the crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper.  In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour and salt until just incorporated.  Add the dough to the prepared baking pan.  Press into an even layer over the bottom of the pan (I found it helpful to grease my hands with a bit of Pam).  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven, maintaining the oven temperature.

While the crust bakes, make the top layer.  Whisk together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl.  Add the raspberries to a fine mesh sieve and press through over a bowl, mashing with a spatula to extract as much juice and pulp as possible, straining out the seeds.  Add the egg whites and eggs to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk well to blend.  Whisk in the raspberry puree and lemon juice until smooth (Batter will be almost completely liquid, fear not!).  Pour the mixture over the crust.

Bake until the center is just set and only jiggles the tiniest bit when gently shaken, about 35-40 minutes (The top will likely become duller in color and your sides might brown, that's ok!).  Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.  Cover and chill well in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours.  When ready to serve, use the parchment paper to lift the bars from the pan (You might have to run a knife around the edge a couple times if your filling leaked through the parchment a bit and is sticking to the pan.).  Place on a cutting board and slice into bars.  If your browned edges got a little over done, I recommend trimming them off so they don't add a weird chewy texture.   Dust the tops with powdered sugar if desired.

Sources: adapted from Annie's Eats, who adapted from Sophistimom, crust inspired by Joy the Baker's Cookbook