I bake lemon bars all the time, both because I love them and because my friends and family love them. Lemons are probably the first fruit that you think of when you think of this type of shortbread + custard bar, but they’re not the only citrus fruit that can be used to make this type of dessert. Limes, for instance, are a great option and these homemade Lime Bars just might be the perfect change of pace for citrus fans looking to change things up.
Since the filling gets all of its flavor from fresh lime juice, it has a very bright, zesty flavor to it. A generous amount of sugar helps temper the tartness of the lime, but these bars definitely deliver a sweet-tart flavor that lime lovers will enjoy. Lime juice is actually yellow, not green, so if you prefer that your bars have a distinct green tint to them, you will need to add a drop or two of food coloring to your filling. The shortbread crust is thick and sturdy, so it holds up very well to the high-liquid filling of these bars without becoming soft or mushy. It has a nice sweet, buttery flavor that also contrasts well with the filling.
If you’ve ever made a no bake key lime pie, you know that a very acidic citrus, like lime juice, is enough to thicken an egg-rich filling. The same principle works with this lime bar filling, which contains only lime juice, sugar and eggs. It will set in the oven, but it will not be completely “firm” while it is not. Like that key lime pie filling, it needs to cool before it is firm enough to slice. I store these in the refrigerator and they are the easiest to handle when chilled, especially if you plan on enjoying them as a refreshing treat on a warm day.
The bars tend to develop a thin meringue-like layer on top during baking, especially if you beat the filling mixture vigorously (thus creating air pockets in the egg whites in the mixture) before pouring it into the crust, so don’t worry if your bars form such a layer or they don’t. Don’t be tempted to skip the dusting of confectioners’ sugar on top before serving, since that touch of sugar adds just the right amount of extra sweetness to each bite.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed and strained lime juice
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 9×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
Make the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add softened butter and blend in with an electric mixer at low speed until mixture forms coarse, sandy crumbs. Pour into pan and press mixture firmly down (with your fingers or the back of a spoon) into an even layer.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until just lightly browned around the edges.
Make the filling. When the crust is just finished baking, or has only one minute to go in the oven. whisk together all filling ingredients in a large bowl until well-combined, about 1 minute. Pour filling mixture into the hot crust and immediately return to the oven.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until filling is just barely set (it will still jiggle when the pan is moved and may begin to turn a very light brown on top).
Cool completely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.
Top slices with confectioners’ sugar to serve.
Makes about 20 bars.