Lemon bar cookie dough recipe

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This is a special recipe to me because it reminds me of baking with my mom we used to always make lemon bars on Easter. While this recipe is more complicated and takes a little longer to make, it is absolutely worth it. It has a wonderful tart lemon flavor, and with the addition of real shortbread, it tastes like a true lemon bar. If you don’t have time to make the whole recipe or only want a simple lemon-flavored dough, just follow the instructions for the cookie dough and add an additional two teaspoons of lemon zest. Feel free to swap out the lemon for another citrus flavor such as orange or lime.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 Servings


For Shortbread Crust
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup (30 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (110 g) heat-treated all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
For Lemon Curd
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons packed lemon zest
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
For Cookie Dough
  • 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons packed lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
  • 1¾ cups (220 g) heat-treated all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To make the crust, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add the flour and salt and mix. The dough will be very crumbly. That’s okay. Dump the dough onto a cutting board and knead until the dough comes together into a ball.
  4. Place the ball of dough onto the lined baking sheet and using a rolling pin, roll to a ¼-inch (6 mm) thickness. The dough may crack while you’re rolling it out, but that’s okay. It doesn’t need to look pretty because it will be broken up later.
  5. Bake the dough for 17 to 19 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Set aside and allow it to cool.
  6. To make the lemon curd, cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the egg and whisk until smooth. Whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt into the butter mixture and mix until combined.
  7. Transfer the mixture to a small pot and heat on medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, whisking often, until the mixture just begins to simmer. It should have begun to thicken at this point. Immediately remove from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Stir occasionally to keep a film from settling over the top of the curd. Keep in mind that the curd will thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if it seems too runny while hot.
  8. To make the cookie dough, cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. It should take about 30 seconds on high. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when done.
  9. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and mix until combined.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix on low until fully incorporated.
  11. When the shortbread round has cooled, break it up into bite-size pieces. Add the pieces to the dough and fold them in by hand.
  12. When the lemon curd has cooled completely, add it to the dough. Swirl it throughout the dough using a spoon, but do not fully combine.
  13. Eat immediately or store in an airtight container for 1 month in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.

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