When life hands you lemons (and limes and mint), riff on a classic lemon bar to make Mint Lemon Lime Bars. It’s a taste of summertime!
Farmer’s Market Find
Do you remember when I told you about the High Tea tradition I have with my daughters? No? Well, I’ve been taking them to tea on their birthdays since they were each 5 years old…it’s our way of celebrating them on their special day. On our very first tea date, my older daughter was served a lemon bar, and she was hooked. I make lemon bars every so often when the mood strikes, and I like to get her opinion whenever possible. Last weekend I made Mint Lemon Lime Bars for a get-together with friends, and they were a real hit with them and my daughter.
Let’s back up a bit…
On a recent trip to my local farmer’s market, I found fresh chocolate mint at a booth run by Still Life Farm. What’s chocolate mint? Think of peppermint with a hint of dark chocolate in the background, sort of a plant version of a peppermint patty. I was immediately intrigued…how could I use it? Sure, I could make a Mojito or another mixed drink that features muddled mint, but I wanted to use it in a baked good (no surprise there). I settled on mint chocolate brownies, but wondered if the subtlety of the chocolate mint would be lost in all that fudgy goodness.
An idea springs forth
As I pondered that question while rummaging through the refrigerator, I noticed freshly squeezed lemon juice on a shelf, and inspiration struck…could I make lemon bars with the chocolate mint? I thought that would work well, but then I noticed lime juice in a bowl (Margarita, anyone?) and fresh peppermint in the vegetable drawer (also from Still Life Farm), so I quickly veered in another direction…Mint Lemon Lime Bars for the win!
(Yes I know…what about the chocolate mint? I guess that will have to wait. Sorry about that, Chief)
The ensuing recipe is my adaptation from The Kitchn’s How to make the best lemon bars. Basically, I replaced the 1/2 cup lemon juice with a mixture of lemon and lime juice, and substituted finely chopped mint for the lemon zest (my chef instructors at school would call it “mint confetti”). The directions are essentially the same. It works, trust me!
[Side note: I used a tamping tool I bought from a small, local kitchen store to press the crust. Since I can’t find that exact tool, I linked to one that’s similar. It works very well for this use and for making mini tart shells. I heartily recommend getting one!]
I’ve got lemons…and limes…and mint…let’s get to it, shall we?
A taste of summer
These Mint Lemon Lime bars tasted like summertime…light, bright, and sticky (especially if you live in a humid area, like me). The fresh peppermint added an extra layer of fresh flavor that brightened up the acidity of the lime. The shortbread layer had just enough structure that the bars held together without being chewy. Overall, these were fabulous!
Did I miss using the chocolate mint? Perhaps, but that just gives me another opportunity to get creative and bake (I’m thinking either scones or shortbread), and I’m open to other ideas. Ooh, I know…how about infusing the mint into butter and making Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chunk cookies? I’m heading back to Still Life Farm’s booth to see what else I can riff on…field trip to the farmer’s market!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Mint Lemon Lime Bars
For the crust
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (4-1/4 oz 120g)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (1-3/4 oz, 50g)
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar (1 oz, 30g)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 oz, 114g), cold, cubed
For the filling
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup granulated sugar (7 oz, 200g)
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar (1/2 oz, 15g), plus more for dusting (see Recipe Notes)
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/3 cup lemon juice (3 oz, 85g), freshly squeezed, from 2 lemons
- 2 Tbsp lime juice (1 oz, 30g), freshly squeezed, from 1 lime
- 1 Tbsp peppermint, fresh, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (1 oz, 30g)
- Preheat oven to to 325°F. Lightly coat a 9- x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray or butter. Line the dish with a parchment paper sling, leaving an overhang of about 2 inches on two opposite sides; set aside.
For the crust
- Place the flour, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse 5 times to combine. Sprinkle with the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
- Pour the crust mixture into the prepared baking dish. Using a crust tamping tool or your fingers, press the crumbs into an even, tight layer. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Bake the crust until light golden-brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
For the filling
- While the crust is baking, place the whole eggs, egg yolk, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the lemon juice, lime juice, mint, and flour until just combined (try not to overmix).
- Remove the parbaked crust from the oven. Pour the filling onto the warm crust. Make sure to tap out any air bubbles on the counter before baking.
- Return the pan to the oven and bake until light brown around the edges, set in the middle, and the top appears relatively dry, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, at least 1 hour, before removing from pan.
- Using a fine-mesh strainer, generously dust the bars with powdered sugar (see Recipe Notes).
- Move the bars to a cutting board by grasping the parchment sling and lifting the slab out of the pan. Cut into 12 or 16 bars. Dust with more powdered sugar, if desired, before serving.
- These bars are best eaten within 24 hours, but may be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.