Creamy Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars | High Altitude Baking Recipes

Bars, Custard | February 8, 2018 | By

Let’s swing things around to Spring today you guys, why wait? 

I’m such a big fan of lemon bars. I love tart candy, and I love tart desserts too. One of my other fav recipes on this blog is for these Berry Crumb Lemon Bars, which are more of a traditional take. 

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So, speaking of traditional, these aren’t quite. Normal lemon bars are more of a jelly topping than a custard, but these ones are super creamy and smooth. PLUS, it’s actually a super short and easy recipe. 

If you’ve ever made key lime pie before, you probably recognize the method here. Sweetened condensed milk takes away some of the measuring and dishes and ingredients here, making it super fast and easy to whip these babies up. 

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The crust is a lightly sweet, easy shortbread recipe- by the way, it’s a great recipe just as cookies too! 

I’ve topped mine with a dusting of powdered sugar, but whipped cream would also be so awesome. Plus, they are fantastic on their own, you don’t even need to top them to find yourself eating two or three (or ten, whatever).

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So anyways, these are one of my favorite things I’ve made in a long time. I’ve eaten a truly ridiculous amount of these bars during testing the last week, and it’s totally going to be weird now that they aren’t going to be a regular part of my diet. 

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Sometimes even when winter isn’t over, it’s nice to just brighten up the days with something like this. The lemon flavor really pops, and you’ll feel like it’s spring. I hope you guys make these- it’s a good one! 

Creamy Lemon Bars

Ingredients

  • For the shortbread crust:
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • For the filling:
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3-4 lemons)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • Powdered sugar or whipped cream to top (optional)

Instructions

  • For the shortbread crust:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 square cake pan with foil, and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
  • Add in the salt, vanilla, and flour, and beat until completely incorporated. The mixture will be soft and crumbly.
  • Press the dough into your prepared baking dish, and spread evenly. The layer will be pretty thin.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until it's just started to become lightly golden on the edges. Set aside, and leave the oven on.
  • For the filling:
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and egg yolks until smooth.
  • Pour the filling over the crust- it does not need to be cooled before you add the filling.
  • Bake in your same preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the mixture has mostly set. It should still jiggle just a little bit in the middle.
  • Cool on the counter for 30-45 minutes, and then cover in foil and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours.
  • Top with your preferred topping, if desired. Cut the bars into 9 squares, and then cut each square into a triangle. Enjoy!
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Frosted Mocha Cookie Bars

Mocha Cookie Bars | High Altitude Baking

Bars, Chocolate | August 30, 2017 | By

You like coffee, right? And chocolate, obviously. And so you probably like things that combine them. Cool, me too, glad we got that straight. 

These bars are that. A sweet, rich, frosted cookie bar that tastes like deep dark chocolate and bold espresso. That description was dramatic, I know, but really I love these. 

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Also, can I just be honest with you for a minute when I say that sometimes baking several batches of individual cookies kinda just takes way too long? I start making cookies all the time and then by oven swap 5 I’d rather die than keep baking. So when you can just stuff all the cookie dough onto one pan, bake it one single time, and slice it up- DO IT. 

Anyways, on to other matters.

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My book is nearly done! Not published-done, but writing and photographing recipes is nearly complete, and I’m so thrilled. I can’t wait to look at all the work I’ve done finished and ready to send off. Also, I’m pretty sure my oven could use a little rest- I’ve been baking multiple times a day on the weekends you guys, pretty much every weekend. 

So sometimes baking something easy, yet rewarding like these babies is the perfect thing. I use dark cocoa powder in all my recipes, including these. I’m not exactly sure what it is about living at a high altitude, but I just can’t get a strong chocolate flavor to come through with regular cocoa. 

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I actually use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder, mainly because it’s available at regular grocery stores. Also though, it’s a blend of regular cocoa and dutch processed cocoa, so it interchanges nicely in recipes. 

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I’m also using instant expresso powder in this recipe, which brings out a strong coffee flavor without the need to dilute the cookies or frosting too much.

Hope you guys enjoy this one as much as I do!

Frosted Mocha Cookie Bars

Ingredients

  • For the cookies:
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs. strongly brewed instant espresso
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Instructions

  • For the cookies:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and espresso powder. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter, canola oil, sugar, and powdered sugar until fluffy.
  • Add in the egg, water, and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  • Slowly add in the flour mixture, and mix until completely incorporated.
  • Spread the dough evenly in your prepared pan, using an off-set spatula.
  • Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the dough is set.
  • Cool completely before frosting.
  • For the frosting:
  • In a medium bowl, beat together the softened butter and powdered sugar until the butter has been dispersed fairly well in the sugar, but the mixture has not fully come together.
  • Beat in the brewed espresso, instant espresso powder, and salt, and mix until the frosting is smooth.
  • Spread evenly over the cooled cookie bars.
  • Slice, and enjoy!
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Berry Crumb Lemon Bars

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Bars, Berries, Custard | March 12, 2016 | By

I don’t know how it is where you live, but in Colorado, it looks like we’re about to swing right out of winter! Today it’s 70 degrees, sunny, and totally perfect. 

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That being said, I’m starting to crave those summery treats that I’ve been missing out on all winter, and you probably are too! Enter berry lemon crumb bars. 

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I used to work a coffee shop for several years through college, and we served a lemon bar with a a layer of tart berries, and a delicate crumb topping, which is where I got the inspiration for these! Now, I have no idea how those ones at my coffee shop were made- we had them shipped in frozen every week- but I do know how I’ve always made traditional lemon bars, so that’s where I’ve started. 

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These sweet and tart little gems start off with a super easy shortbread crust. BTW, this same crust recipe can make the most amazing shortbread cookies! Just chill the dough for 30 minutes after mixing it up, and then roll, cut, and bake them until just golden!

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In the meantime, make a full batch of these lemon bars with sweet and tart berries, and a light crumb topping to hold you over until summer comes full on! The berries add a whole other dimension of flavor that traditional lemon bars have never known, and you’ll love this variation on the classic!

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Enjoy!

Berry Crumb Lemon Bars

Ingredients

  • For the Crust:
  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • For the berries:
  • 2 cups mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries)
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1 tbs. cornstarch
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • For the Lemon filling:
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Zest of 3-4 lemons
  • 1 cup lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • For the crumb topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbs. melted butter

Instructions

  • For the crust:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 9x13 pan with foil, and grease the foil.
  • Beat together the butter and powdered sugar, then add in the salt and vanilla. Then slowly add the flour until a dough comes together
  • Dump the dough into your lined pan, and press down until the dough evenly coats the bottom of the pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, and then pull out and cool.
  • For the berries:
  • While the crust is cooking and cooling, place the berries, cornstarch, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Cook until the berries have softened. Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until just chunky, not completely smooth.
  • Pour the berry mixture over the crust and spread evenly.
  • For the Lemon filling:
  • Simply whisk everything together until completely smooth!
  • Pour the lemon filling over the crust and berries, and place in the same 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.
  • For the crumb topping:
  • Mix together the flour and both sugars. Pour the melted butter in, and stir with a fork until crumbs form.
  • After the bars have baked for 10 minutes, pull them out of the oven, and sprinkle the crumb topping all over the top.
  • Return to the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the lemon filling has set.
  • Cool completely before cutting and eating!
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Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

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Bars, Chocolate | February 10, 2016 | By

Happy end-of-football-season everyone! I hope you guys had a fun super bowl- here in Denver we sure did!

Today we’re talking about one of the treats I made for the game, and guys- these are not for the faint of heart, or the full tummy. These are really thick, super dense, and pretty amazing all together brownies. 

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I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my idea. I occasionally just can’t make a decision on what to bake, but I know that I need to bake for the blog. I had that moment this weekend, so naturally I made my husband stand in front of the pantry and help me. I suggested brownies, and he suggested we go over the top with raspberry cheesecake brownies. 

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These are so good you guys, it’s totally worth the calories and junk. Basically, I already love cheesecake brownies (so do you), but adding the raspberry adds a kind of wonderful depth of flavor. The raspberries cut through the sweetness with a burst of tart, and it’s perfect. 

I took some fresh raspberries and cooked them down with a little bit of sugar and cornstarch, but you can even just make these with some store-bought raspberry jam and get the same effect. 

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Plus, this is my favorite brownie recipe. I used with peanut butter to make these beauties too, and it’s really pretty great. For this recipe, I doubled it to make a huge batch for our party, but you can half everything if you want!

If you do cut it in half, the only tough part is the cheesecake filling, so I suggest just making a full batch, and refrigerating what you don’t use for another time. 

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These are a crowd pleaser, seriously. Make them, eat them, love them!

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients

  • For the raspberries:
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 2 tbs. sugar
  • 2 tbs. cornstarch
  • For the brownies:
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tbs. cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • For the cheesecake:
  • 1 8 oz. block cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs. flour

Instructions

  • For the raspberries:
  • In a small saucepan, cook the raspberries, sugar, and cornstarch for about 10 minutes over low-medium heat, until soft and sauce-like. Cool completely.
  • For the brownies:
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line a 9x13 inch pan.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder until smooth. Let the mixture cool completely in the pan.
  • Once the chocolate mixture is cooled, stir in the sugar. Then stir in the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla extract.
  • Finally, stir in the flour and salt until combined. Spread evenly in the bottom of your pan.
  • For the cheesecake:
  • Beat together your softened cream cheese and sour cream. Add in the sugar, and beat until combined.
  • Add in the egg, vanilla, and flour. Mixture should be very smooth.
  • Dollop the cheesecake mixture all over the top of your brownie batter, and swirl with a butter knife.
  • Then, drizzle the raspberry mixture over the top, and swirl again.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until completely set.
  • Cool completely before cutting and eating!
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Oreo Brownie Parfaits

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Bars, Custard | September 27, 2015 | By

Hi guys! Who doesn’t love a good combo of different kinds of chocolate? It’s really undeniable, these things are pretty fantastic. 

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I just got my wisdom teeth removed this weekend, so my ability to eat normal food has been temporarily suspended, so a dessert like this is exactly what I needed. The great thing about parfaits, or their larger counter-part, trifles, is that you can really put whatever the heck you want in there. I basically always like to have several different textures, with at least one solid item like cake, brownies, or fruit. 

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My original plan was actually to make a full on trifle, but I couldn’t locate my trifle dish. It’s cool, mason jars are cute, amiright? Plus it makes a bunch of single-serve desserts, generous single servings at that. I don’t know about you, but I love it when I don’t have to share my dessert. 

Basically, this particular parfait recipe is made up of some of my favorite staple recipes; chocolate pudding, brownies, whipped cream, plus Oreo cookies. If you’ve never made your own chocolate pudding, today’s the day to start- it’s really quite easy, and it tastes amazing. If you’ve never made homemade whipped cream, you may have never known real love. 

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Here’s the breakdown of my favorite recipes that I put together in these pretty parfaits- layer in some chocolate pudding, a little whipped cream, brownie chunks, Oreo chunks, and repeat the whole thing until your jars are full. Share them with your friends, or hoard them in your fridge for your own enjoyment!

Oreo Brownie Parfaits
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For the Chocolate Pudding
  1. 3/4 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  3. 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. 4 egg yolks
  5. 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  6. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla
  8. 1 cup chocolate chips
  9. 2 tbs. butter
For the Brownies
  1. 8 tbs. butter
  2. 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1 tsp. vanilla
  6. 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs. flour
  7. Pinch of salt
  8. 1/2 cup chocolate chips
For the Whipped Cream
  1. 2 cups heavy cream
  2. 3 tbs. instant vanilla pudding
  3. 1/3 cup powdered sugar
For the Parfaits
  1. 6 mason jars
  2. 15 Oreo cookies, broken into chunks
For the Chocolate Pudding
  1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk, cream, and vanilla.
  3. Whisk the milk mixture into the sugar mixture. Cook on medium heat until thick, whisking constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate and butter until smooth. Pour pudding through a mesh siv to remove any lumps, and refrigerate immediately.
For the Brownies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 8 x 8 pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter and the unsweetened chocolate. Remove from heat, and cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Then add the flour, salt, and chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into the baking sheet, and bake for 35 minutes or until set. Cool completely.
For the Whipped Cream
  1. Whip the heavy cream in a large bowl until you have very soft peaks.
  2. Add in the vanilla pudding and the powdered sugar, and whip together until you've got stiff peaks.
For the Parfaits
  1. Layer your mason jars with chocolate pudding, whipped cream, brownies, and oreos as you see fit- no judgement here!
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