I adore lemons. They’re bright, flavorful and so refreshing, easily making them one of my favorite flavors in both sweet (and savory) cooking. Truth be told, I’d chose a citrus-y dessert over a chocolate one any day – like these amazing lavender lemon shortbread bars.
I made quite a few batches of these bars when recipe testing, and while I usually test bake things and give away the bakes, these lavender lemon shortbread bars didn’t get the chance to leave my kitchen. Each batch was consumed so quickly that I had to fight to get a piece to test the recipe. They’re that good.
I’ve sworn my allegiance to lemon meringue pies and lemon cream tarts over the years, but until I developed this recipe, I wasn’t too impressed with lemon bars. I’ve made and tried many lemon bars over the years and have had some decent ones, but could never find one that was balanced enough for my liking. My ideal lemon shortbread bar has a buttery, rich shortbread crust that doesn’t become a soggy mess, a perfect balance of tart and sweet filling (more on the tart side preferred) and the right ratio of filling to crust. I set out to develop my own recipe, hoping to settle my lemon bar qualms once and for all and this one definitely does not disappoint.
In this recipe, I’ve added lavender to the shortbread crust. I urge you to keep the lavender in this recipe even if you have tried lavender in desserts before and didn’t like it. It is true that lavender can be soapy and overwhelming if overused but that is not the case in this recipe. The lavender is subtle, but compliments and amplifies the lemon flavor. It’s beautifully fragrant and absolutely addictive in this recipe.
This lavender lemon shortbread bar recipe starts like many others, by combining the crust ingredients in a food processor allowing the lavender to break up and blend into the other ingredients before adding softened butter. While the mixture is sandy and clumpy, it is pressed into a pan and sent off to the oven to bake.
Meanwhile, the filling ingredients are mixed together and set aside until the crust is finished baking and is lightly browned. While the crust is still warm, pour the ingredients into the crust and bake at a reduced temperature until the center has a so very slight jiggle.
While I have to admit that many times I’ve dug into these lavender lemon shortbread bars with a fork while still hot because they are THAT good, they are best served cut into squares or wedges at room temperature and finished with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.
If you try these lavender lemon shortbread bars, let me know! Leave a comment in the comment area below and be sure to snap a photo and tag it #littlevintagebaking on Instagram. I love seeing your Little Vintage Baking creations!
For another lemon recipe, check out this Meyer Lemon Ginger Tart with Toasted Honey Meringue!
Lavender Lemon Shortbread Bars
For the shortbread base:
- 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (177g) unbleached, all purpose-flour
- 1/4 cup (55g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 - 3/4 tsp dried culinary lavender
For the lemon filling:
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cup (266g) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2/3 cup (160ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup (80ml) half and half
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9x9 square baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt and lavender until well blended. You want the lavender to be dispersed and chopped up a bit.
- Add in the cubes of softened butter and pulse until the mixture is sandy and starts to form clumps.
- Gently press shortbread mixture into an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan. Use a light hand when pressing in your dough to keep the shortbread crumbly and cookie-like. Refrigerate for a minimum 20-30 minutes.
- Bake crust for 22-25 minutes or until the edges start to turn a golden brown.
- Remove shortbread from the oven, let it cool slightly and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F.
- Prepare the lemon filling. In a medium bowl, rub together the sugar and lemon zest between your hands to release the oils from the zest. Whisk in the flour until blended. Add the eggs and whisk briskly so that the sugar doesn't "cook" the eggs and form clumps.
- Add the lemon juice and half and half and whisk to fully incorporate.
- Pour filling over the warm shortbread and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until the center jiggles very (very) slightly.
- Let the bars cool to room temperature, about an hour. The longer they cool, the easier and prettier they are to slice. Transfer bars to a cutting board and cut into squares or wedges. Using a sieve, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.