The fact that citrus is at its peak in winter never ceases to amaze me. Right when we’re in the middle of the winter doldrums, here comes lemons, grapefruits, and oranges to brighten up our plates and our palates.
My Wild Blueberry Lemon Bars are certainly bright. They’re citrusy. They’ve got the sweetness of wild blueberries. They are neon pink. If you’re looking for a dessert that harkens warmer months in the dead of winter, this is it!
These bars taste like blueberry lemonade served with a shortbread cookie. They are so delicious and the perfect balance of sweet and tart. They are a definite crowd-pleaser, and super simple to make.
I’m usually an advocate for fresh fruit, but for this one, I say go frozen all the way!
You can absolutely use fresh berries for this recipe, however I prefer frozen wild blueberries for a few reasons. Wild berries tend to be a bit smaller, meaning they won’t rise too high out of the mixture and burst on the surface of the lemon bars. This recipe already has a bit more moisture than traditional lemon bars because of the berries, and adding larger berries increases the likelihood that berries will explode on the surface and make the distribution of berries in across the pan less even.
Also, I really like the color the frozen berries produce. You don’t get this gorgeous, rich fuchsia color with fresh berries.
A couple tips for you before you begin:
- Make sure you squeeze the lemons yourself. It is very important that you use fresh lemons instead of pouring it out of a bottle (that includes those little lemon-shaped squeeze bottles). Squeezing lemons does not take that much time, and your lemon bars will have much more flavor. If you take a shortcut and use bottled juice, not only will your bars be less flavorful, but they may be too sweet since most lemon juice is pre-sweetened. If you need a quality, inexpensive lemon juicer, here’s the one I use (it is also the lime juicer that lives on my bar cart. I love this thing!).
- Do not dust with powdered sugar until right before you serve them. As I mentioned before, these lemon bars are extra juicy! That means they will soak the powdered sugar up very quickly, so you’ll want to dust them at the last second possible. Also, make sure they are properly chilled before dusting, and use a sifter to evenly distribute the powdered sugar across the bars’ tops.
- Do not under bake the crust. Again, these are juicy little bars, so the crust needs to be baked before pouring the mixture on top. The crust will still be a little pale when you remove it from the oven, but there should be some color to it.
- Use a glass baking dish. I have made these bars with both glass and metal dishes, and I find that the best results come from glass baking dishes. Metal works too, but you really need to butter the pan to prevent the crust from sticking or becoming overly crisp.
- Eat within three days. I’m pretty sure this one won’t be much of a problem! If they aren’t all gone in one day, make sure you store them in the refrigerator and eat within three days, otherwise the crust will start to get a little soggy and sad.
These Wild Blueberry Lemon Bars only take a few minutes to make — just mix the crust ingredients together with a pastry blender, press into the pan and bake, then mix the filling ingredients together, pour onto the crust and bake a little longer. Once they cool, cut them, dust them with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
If you make these, let me know how they turned out for you!