These lemon bar cookies are so stinkin' good! They have a thick and chewy cookie with a puddle of smooth, homemade lemon curd in the center. They are incredibly flavorful and will melt in your mouth.
What are lemon bar cookies?
I adore these cookies so much. They are very easy to make. I was nervous at first to try out homemade lemon curd, but after a few rounds of testing, I got it right and it is DELICIOUS. So don't be afraid.
The cookie itself is made with a combination of cream cheese and butter, making for a thick and sticky cookie dough. I add a little bit of lemon extract to the cookie dough, which isn't necessary but it just adds even more lemon flavor.
The filling is a sweet lemon curd. And if you've ever had lemon curd, you know that I don't need to do much more explaining. It is sweet, but tart from the yummy lemon flavor.
For the curd:
- Granulated sugar to add sweetness, of course. Brown sugar would change the flavor and the color of the cookies
- Egg yolk is what makes the curd, curd-like! It gives the mixture what it needs to thicken up and become like a custard
- Lemons obviously! Makes the lemon juice and lemon zest
- Unsalted butter also helps thicken the curd, and makes it creamy and decadent and delicious
For the cookie:
- All purpose flour is the flour of choice for these cookies. It gives them the best texture
- Cornstarch is not a common ingredient in cookies but it makes them SO good. Cornstarch makes them super soft and extra thick
- Baking powder helps the cookies rise perfectly
- Salt brings out all the other flavors in the cookie!
- Unsalted butter what's a cookie without butter? I love unsalted butter because it allows you to control the exact amount of salt that goes into a recipe
- Cream cheese adds to the thickness of the batter, and adds a richness and softness that wouldn't be there otherwise
- Granulated sugar is the sweetener of choice for these cookies. Brown sugar would change the flavor and the color of the cookies
- Egg plus egg yolk to build structure and bind the ingredients together
- Lemon extract adds a bit more lemon flavor, because why the heck not!
Lemon Curd Tips
I have a few tips when it comes to making lemon curd.
- Use real, fresh lemons for your lemon juice. Not the store bought lemon juice in a container.
- Carefully whisk together all of the ingredients before heating them up on the stove.
- Heat the mixture on low-medium heat, not hot. Heating up the mixture too quickly can cause the lemon curd to split.
- Once the lemon curd is finished, sometimes it is useful to strain the mixture if you can see visible chunks of lemon zest. Straining the mixture will result in the smoothest of textures.
- Pour the lemon curd into a wide and shallow bowl to cool. Pouring it into a bowl of this shape, regular than a regular-sized bowl, will help the lemon curd cool faster and more evenly.
- Cover the lemon curd with cling wrap/tin foil that is placed directly onto the curd. This will prevent a film on the top of the lemon curd from forming.
I hope you guys love this lemon bar cookie recipe! It is definitely one of my favorites.
Lemon Bar Cookies
- Stand/handheld mixer
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp lemon zest about 2 large lemons
- ¼ cup (60 mL) fresh lemon juice about 2-3 large lemons
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter cold and cubed
- 2 ¼ cups (282 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 8 oz package (226 grams) cream cheese room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 egg yolk room temperature
- 1 tsp lemon extract optional, but adds a lovely lemon flavor to the cookie!
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (120 grams) powdered sugar
- In a medium sauce pan, combine the granulated sugar and egg yolks. Whisk them together until smooth and combined. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk until combined.
- Place the pan over the stove on low-medium heat and stir constantly while it heats up. The mixture will begin to thicken and bubble. Once it begins to bubble, it should be done. If you have a thermometer, it should be about 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from the heat and add the cubed butter. Stir until the butter has completely melted and the mixture is combined.
- Pour the lemon curd into a wide and shallow bowl (this will help it cool faster). Cover it with cling wrap/tin foil that is placed directly onto the curd. This will prevent a film on the top of the lemon curd from forming. Let it cool for 1-2 hours.
- Once the curd is cool and set, make the cookie dough. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium-high speed until smooth and no lumps remain. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until combined, about 2 minutes.
- Add the egg, egg yolk and lemon extract and mix on low-medium speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until a dough forms. It will be thick and sticky.
- Fill a small bowl with granulated sugar and another small bowl with powdered sugar.
- Using a large cookie scoop, approximately 3 tablespoons, scoop the cookie dough and immediately place it in the granulated sugar. Toss to coat - immediately placing the scooped cookie dough into the granulated sugar will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.
- Roll the dough into a ball and toss in the powdered sugar - coat it generously. Place on the lined baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 3 inches apart. The cookies will spread in the oven.
- Using a rounded tablespoon, press the bottom of the tablespoon into each cookie until it forms a round indent. Place a heaping teaspoon of curd into the indent. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes until the cookies are set and the curd is bubbling up. It will set when the cookies are cooling.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Dust with additional powdered sugar if desired. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!