Last week I shared turtle brownies that I made in honor of my mom.  My inspiration for the treats I chose to donate to her hospice was to make things that were hybrids of her favorite desserts and my own tastes.  I knew one pan of brownies wasn’t going to be enough for all of the hospice workers, and I wanted to provide an alternative in the event that someone might not like chocolate (!)  Aside from turtle sundaes, etc. one of Mom’s other favorite desserts was lemon bars.  I have never liked lemon bars since they usually involve lemon curd, but when I saw this recipe I thought they might be the exception to change my mind.

So I made them.  And let me just say right up front, I was extremely skeptical.  The raspberry-lemon layer before baking is very liquidy – verging on juice.  I honestly did not expect these to turn out at all, and while they were baking, I was making plans to cut the brownies into small pieces so that there would be enough to go around.  But then magically, these worked.  I chilled them, sliced them, and finally I tasted one.  The best way I can think of to express my feelings about these bars is this: I liked them more than the brownies.  If you put both of them in front of me, this is the one I would choose.  The topping is sweet, tart, smooth and almost juicy all at the same time.  I loved the one I did get to sample and I already can’t wait to make them again.  If you are a fan of raspberries, lemons, or both, make these and prepare to fall in love.

  • Yield Yield: about 24-30 bars*


For the crust:
2¼ sticks (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt

For the raspberry lemon layer:
3 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. salt
3 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
6 large egg whites
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour and salt just until incorporated.  Add the dough to the prepared baking pan.  Press into an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven, maintaining the temperature.

  • 02

    While the crust is baking, make the top layer.  Combine the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl and whisk to blend.  Add the raspberries to a fine mesh sieve and press through, mashing with a spatula, to extract as much juice and pulp as possible, straining out the seeds.  Add the egg whites and eggs to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk well to blend.  Whisk in the raspberry puree and lemon juice until smooth.

  • 03

    Pour the mixture over the crust and bake until the center is just set and not longer jiggles when gently shaken, about 35-40 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.  Cover and chill well in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours.  When ready to serve, use the parchment paper to lift the bars from the pan.  Place on a cutting board and slice into bars.  Dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar if desired.

  • 04

    *This recipe can be halved and baked in an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with a slightly reduced baking time.