lovely lemon bars

Last week as I was browsing some of my favorite food blogs, I came across this post for lemon shortbread bars from La Fuji Mama. Then I discovered this lemon bar post by Smitten Kitchen. You see, I have a thing for lemon bars. You may have guessed that.

lemon shortbread bars

So, after a tough week, I thought making a nice batch of these tart but sweet treats might lift my spirits and brighten the weekend.

lemons for lemon bars

I wanted to use Meyer lemons, but my impatience got the better of me. I sent my husband to the closest grocery store to see what he could find, and regular ol’ lemons it was. No Meyers.


I used a blend of recipes for these lemon bars. I slightly modified La Fuji Mama’s recipe for the shortbread crust by adding a half teaspoon of Kosher salt. For the filling, I used this recipe from Gourmet magazine, but I added a teaspoon of lemon zest and half teaspoon of good vanilla.

shortbread crust, ready to bake


freshly dusted

I loved the thickness of the shortbread. The ratio of lemon filling to shortbread was essentially one to one, and this helped cut down on the tartness of the lemon in each bite. The best thing? Watching my family devour them. It worked — my spirits were lifted.

lemon shortbread bars

lemon shortbread bars

Lemon Shortbread Bars


Ingredients for Shortbread Base:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cup confectioner's sugar (plus 3 tbsp for dusting the top of the bars)
1-1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Ingredients for Lemon Filling:

4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish.

Make the shortbread base: Using a food processor, combine the flour, confectioner's sugar, butter, and salt. Pat dough into greased baking dish. Bake for 18-20 minutes (crust will be slightly golden-colored).

While shortbread base is baking, make the lemon filling: Whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until combined well. Stir in lemon juice, flour, vanilla, and lemon zest.

Pour lemon filling into baking dish, over the hot shortbread filling. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until filling is set.

Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Sift confectioner's sugar over bars prior to serving.

Adapted from recipes by La Fuji Mama & Gourmet.

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17 Responses to “german chocolate cake and the cook’s illustrated baking book [giveaway]”

  1. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — November 4, 2013 @ 9:00 am

    What a great book… While I certainly have my share of baking cookbooks (and will have to make room on the shelf in my kitchen), I can’t wait to get a copy of this one! That chocolate cake looks absolutely divine!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 4th, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

      Jen – You’ll love it. It’s going to be my new bible of baking.

  2. Di — November 4, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    Love Cook’s Illustrated magazines. I’m not much of a baker, though, probably because I don’t like sweets that much, and because I don’t think I’m very good at it. You should have seen my last attempt at baking christmas cookies. It was pitiful, and that’s being kind. My poor husband is, more often that not, relegated to eating store bought ice cream for dessert. Perhaps all I need is a good baking cook book!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 4th, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

      Ha ha! Baking just takes practice, Di. Of course, my husband would be thrilled to have store-bought ice cream for dessert.

  3. Liz — November 4, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

    Wow, that is a delicious looking cake. I’ve got a CI recipe for ciabatta that is a real winner, but I’ve never expanded beyond that. This tells me that maybe it’s time I did!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 4th, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

      Yes, you definitely should, Liz. They have so many great recipes, from all different cuisines.

  4. Barbara | Creative Culinary — November 4, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

    I have far too many copies of the Cooks Illustrated magazines that I simply can not toss…just LOVE reading the methodology behind baking and I’ve always had great results with their recipes.

    Beyond that? German chocolate cake is my all time favorite!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 4th, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

      I agree – I’ve never made a CI recipe that did not turn out exactly as it was supposed to. Hope you’re doing well, Barb!

  5. Dina — November 5, 2013 @ 9:00 am

    that german chocolate cake looks amazing!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 5th, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

      Thank you, Dina. 🙂

  6. Sarah Jones — November 5, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

    That looks like heaven. I told my husband that I am making this for myself for my birthday. My favorite kind of cake!

  7. Nutmeg Nanny — November 9, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

    Oh my, this cake is gorgeous and I am sure that it just tastes perfect! Thanks for sharing this recipe, will definitely be utilizing it in the future.

  8. Gail — November 13, 2013 @ 8:40 pm


    Your cake looks divine. Cook’s Illustrated recipe writers excel in adding as many steps as humanly possible. If you persevere, you will be rewarded., that’s for sure.

  9. Laura — November 19, 2013 @ 10:19 am

    Yum! One of my favorite cakes!

  10. Pingback: Blogger Spotlight: The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book | The Feed

  11. Deidre — November 11, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

    I have an older version of this recipe, published in The Week magazine about ten years ago. This has been my go to German chocolate cake recipe since I found it. It is identical to this one, except that it includes 1-1/2c chopped pecans, toasted and added to the filling “just before assembly to keep them from becoming soft and soggy”.
    This is a delicious recipe and I don’t understand why the pecans were omitted. I can’t imagine making the cake without the nuts, as I always thought they were an integral part of a German chocolate cake recipe.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 11th, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

      I think the beauty of baking a cake like this is that the filling is flexible. We’re not great fans of nuts in cakes, so I was more than happy to omit pecans. But if you like them in there, go for it! 🙂

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