Lemon-Ricotta Bars

August 10, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

In this recipe, I hope, is achieved everything I always was looking for in citrus bars; first of all a tender, melt-in-your-mouth, crust, lemony taste not only in the filling, but also in the crust, and finely smooth texture, and tall beautiful bars. After testing a few recipes during a long time, I discovered that using confectioner's sugar and corn starch in the crust, and adding just 1 cup ricotta to the filling, gave the bars just the right height, unusual flavor and texture.
Can be made with Meyer lemons or other citrus. —Kukla

Test Kitchen Notes

These aren't your average lemon bars. The use of ricotta gives them a light and airy texture that we're crazy about. The dough feels dry, and we were slightly skeptical, but it cooks up nicely and proves the greatness of butter (yet again). We happily ate them with and without the final sprinkling of confectioner's sugar. —The Editors

  • Prep time 50 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Makes 18 (2-inch) squares
  • For the crust
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces, slightly softened plus extra for greasing pan
  • For the lemon-ricotta filling
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) fresh whole milk ricotta, drained
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
In This Recipe
  1. To make the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Using a pastry brush, lightly butter a 13x9-inch baking dish and line with one sheet parchment paper. Butter paper, then lay second sheet crosswise over it.
  3. Pulse flour, confectioner's sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt in food processor.
  4. Add butter and process to blend; then pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal.
  5. Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and, press firmly with fingers into even layer over entire pan bottom and about 1/2-inch up sides.
  6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then bake until light golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  7. To make the filling: Whisk ricotta, eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon zest, juice, and salt to blend well.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F.
  9. Stir filling mixture before pouring into warm crust.
  10. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 30 minutes.
  11. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours.
  12. Transfer to cutting board, fold paper down, and cut into bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts.
  13. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

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