In the spirit of baking light and healthier in January here is a reduced fat recipe for lemon bars that is so good you won’t miss the extra calories. I adapted this lemon bar recipe from another new to me ‘lightened up’ cook book America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2012, I added finely chopped rosemary to the crust, used Meyer lemons and mixed the zest into the granulated sugar for the filling to pack a bigger lemony punch. I also used low fat vanilla yogurt instead of whole milk in the crust. I don’t understand why they call for a tablespoon of whole milk in this recipe, who has whole milk in their kitchen?( especially when trying to eat lighter). Generally I would say that lemon bars are not safe anywhere near me, so I read the recipes, look at the pictures and drool over them in bakeries- all at a safe distance. But, I just read that if you walk for one hour a day you can add 200 calories a day to your say 1200 calorie a day diet and still lose weight. These lemon bars weigh in at 190 calories, wow 10 calories to spare! And they are really good, I gave my husband Scott one after dinner and he wanted another one, sorry only one a day if you walked an hour. They also have a good herbal flavor from the rosemary which compliments the lemon flavor. I could write all day but I need to get walking and I think you know why. The rest of these beauties are packed in a container to be shared later.
Meyer lemons and rosemary are two of my favorites, used in pasta, with chicken, on grilled vegetables brushed with olive oil or just in a bowl to admire on your table. What would you do with Meyer lemons and rosemary?
Ingredients and Directions for Meyer Lemon Bar Cookies with Rosemary
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2012
For the crust
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
1 tablespoon low fat vanilla yogurt
For the filling
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg and 1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons lemon juice from 2-3 Meyer lemons
1 tablespoon powdered sugar(for dusting on top)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare an 8″ square pan by lightly spraying the inside of the pan with baking spray before lining it with 2 long sheets of aluminum foil folded to fit inside and placed perpendicular to each other in the pan. Cut the sheets long enough to hang over the sides to use as handles to lift out the baked lemon bars before cutting into squares. Spray the inside of foil lined pan with baking spray.
Please note- this is an extra step that I think gives the bar a more lemony flavor- in a small bowl mix the lemon zest into the granulated sugar for the filling and set aside.
For the crustprocess the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, rosemary, baking powder and salt until well combined. Add all the butter and vanilla yogurt to the flour mixture at once and pulse at least a dozen times before turning out into the prepared pan and pressing into an even layer. See photo below (footprints in the sand!) notice the size of the butter pieces, they can be fairly big and press into a nice buttery but light crust.
Bake until evenly browned about 20 minutes. Cool the crust on a metal rack for at least 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Prepare the filling by whisking together the eggs, granulated sugar mixed with lemon zest, flour and the salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and pour over the cooled crust. Bake until filling is set- about 20 minutes. Cool completely on a metal rack before lifting the bars out of the pan with the foil. Cut into 9 squares(190 calories each) and dust with confectioners sugar.
Makes 9 bars