These little pink beauties are all that their name promises. Some how the proportions of this recipe are just so that the bars don't just taste like strawberry-flavored lemon bars, they taste like strawberry lemonade bars. Mmmmmmm...
The strawberry lemon filling will appear almost soupy when prepared but firms up quite nicely once baked. The original recipe actually called for raspberries, but I had a big supply of strawberries at the time (thanks Trader Joe!). I think blueberries and blackberries are a good compliment to lemon as well, and would make beautiful purple and fuschia colored bars...
I ended up splitting the recipe into two 8x8 pans. I took one into work, but am tempted to leave the second one at home... dangerous...
This recipe can be made at any time of the year if you use frozen berries instead of fresh-picked, but the flavors scream summer. Labor Day has come and gone, but it'll feel like summer here in Tucson until October... which means... I'll have to make these a few more times until then. Darn.
Strawberry Lemonade Bars
adapted from Annie's Eats
yields about 24-32 bars
For the crust:
2¼ sticks (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
For the strawberry lemon layer:
3 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. salt
3 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
6 large egg whites
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
*This recipe can be halved and baked in an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with a reduced baking time of 25-30 minutes for the strawberry lemon layer.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour and salt just until incorporated. Add the dough to the prepared baking pan. Press into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven, maintaining the temperature.
While the crust is baking, make the top layer. Combine the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Puree strawberries and press through a fine mesh sieve, 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 strawberry puree and lemon juice until smooth.
Pour the mixture over the crust and bake until the center is just set and not longer jiggles when gently shaken, about 35-40 minutes. 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. Place on a cutting board and slice into bars. Dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar if desired.