Chewy White Chocolate Lemon Bars

Chewy White Chocolate Lemon BarsThere are many situations in which it helps if you know what you’re looking for.

Chewy White Chocolate Lemon BarsOn house hunting TV shows the beleaguered real estate agent receives the home buyers’ list of “must haves” right at the beginning of the show. The agent then knows what to look for, even if the expectations are unattainable.

Chewy White Chocolate Lemon BarsStanding with your daughter in the prom dress department is another time that a few price, style, and color guidelines can be helpful in reducing stress and drama. With hundreds of frothy or slinky creations to audition for the role of “the dress”, it’s essential to be able to eliminate non-contenders.

Chewy White Chocolate Lemon Bars Then, there is the college search. With thousands of colleges in the U.S., it is helpful if students have some inkling of what they are looking for in order to filter out the possibilities. When I did the tour of colleges with my daughter, she was exceedingly specific; she knew where in the country she wanted to be, she knew the size of school she was looking for, and she knew that she wanted to be an elementary education major. We were able to quickly narrow down the choices to a handful of schools that met her needs. My son, on the other hand,was exceedingly unspecific. He looked at universities from coast to coast. Though he didn’t want a huge school, he was flexible on size. Most impactful to the search was that he had no idea what he wanted to study, making it impossible to look for a college with an expertise in a yet-to-be-determined major. My son did not know what he was looking for, but in the end he chose what felt like a good fit, and his choice has worked for him.

Chewy White Chocolate Lemon Bars

One night when I should have been sleeping, but instead was imagining cookies, I thought about  baking a lemon bar that was mail-able. I knew exactly what I was looking for; something lemony, soft, and chewy but not the traditional moist, gooey lemon bar that is delicious but doesn’t travel well. I wanted to use desert safe ingredients that would result in a sturdy, long lasting bar with great flavor and texture. I definitely knew what I was looking for, but I couldn’t find it. There are tons of recipes for luscious lemon bars; however, none I found are suitable for care packages. Some are so fragile, I’m not sure they would make it to a picnic.

Chewy White Chocolate Lemon Bars

Stubbornly sticking to my lemon bar craving, I decided to create my own recipe. I started with a recipe for butterscotch blondies and played with it. After a few less than stellar results, I am very happy with this, the final version. I added an extra egg yolk for chewiness and lemon zest, lemon juice, and white chocolate for flavor. To follow desert safe guidelines, I substituted granulated white sugar for the brown sugar. The original recipe and mine use vegetable shortening, but I think butter or coconut oil would work equally well. For mailing, I do not recommend using the optional icing. The icing is tasty and adds a little extra lemon zing but it smushes when wrapped. The tops of the bars are sprinkled in yellow decorative sugar before baking which gives a yellow sparkle that dresses up the bars without icing and stays in place for packaging.

Chewy White Chocolate Lemon BarsChewy White Chocolate Lemon Bars

Chewy White Chocolate Lemon Bars

Adapted from Pillsbury Baking

(Printable recipe)

Makes 20 bars

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter flavor vegetable shortening

1 ¼  cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract**

2 teaspoons lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup white chocolate chips

2-3 tablespoons yellow decorating sugar

Icing (optional):

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9” x 9” pan with foil extending over the edges. Spray the foil with non-stick spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt.
  • Place vegetable shortening in large microwave safe bowl and microwave about 1 minute until melted.
  • Into the bowl of melted shortening add flour mixture, sugar, eggs and yolk, vanilla, zest, and  lemon juice. Mix with a large spoon until smooth.
  • Stir in white chocolate chips.
  • Spread the batter evenly into pan then sprinkle with yellow sugar. With fingertips, press the sugar gently to make sure it sticks to the batter.
  • Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
  • When cool, remove from pan by lifting the overhanging foil.
  • If icing, mix together lemon juice and confectioners sugar until smooth. Adjust consistency if necessary by adding more sugar or juice. Drizzle over uncut bars.
  • Cut into bars.
  • Store at room temperature in an airtight container or ziplock bag for 2** weeks. For longer storage, I recommend not cutting into individual bars, but wrapping the entire square.

**Desert-safe adaptations: If vanilla extract is restricted due to alcohol content, substitute vanilla paste which does not contain alcohol. The lemon juice and zest baked into the batter should not pose a spoilage problem. The lemon juice in the icing is not baked in and should not be used. Wrapping the entire pan of lemon bars without cutting will preserve moisture and keep the bars chewy for longer.

Packing tips: Double wrap bars individually or in pairs in plastic wrap before placing in airtight containers or ziplock bags.

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35 thoughts on “Chewy White Chocolate Lemon Bars

    • Thanks for being my own personal cheering squad, Jess! Your enthusiasm for baking always makes me smile. :) White chocolate adds a creamy taste that does up the scrumptious factor. You pour the lemonade, I’ll bring the lemon bars. :)

    • Thanks, Loretta! I agree, white chocolate does go with so many flavors. It adds a creamy taste while allowing other flavors to shine. However, I doubt that die hard dark chocolate fans (and they are a verbal bunch) will ever let dark chocolate take a back seat. :)

    • I agree, Jennifer, lemon bars are wonderful. That is why I really wanted to figure out a mail-able lemon bar recipe! The chewiness is an added bonus. :) Do you think your grandmother used vegetable shortening in her bars? Many older recipes use vegetable shortening and it often makes a textural difference.

    • Thank you so much, Patty! I truly appreciate your kind words. Your amazing photos and recipes are what I aspire to. Your California growing season gives you so many fresh herb, fruit, and vegetable options! I am envious. :) The lemons used in these bars are never going to be local to Missouri, but they are rather yummy anyway. :)

  1. When I hear the word “chewy”, I always pay closer attention! Love your creativity. I’m sure these are delicious and I hear a lot of raves about the combination of lemon and white chocolate (D. Lebovitz says it’s good and he knows what he’s talking about! : )

    • Chewy is my pay attention word too, Monica. :) In bars that’s key. In cookies, my favorites tend to be chewy in the center with slightly crisp edges. D.Lebovitz certainly is A if not THE chocolate baking guru. I say, go with his authoritative command! :)

  2. I love the idea of white chocolate and lemon together! Very unique and a pairing I haven’t tried before. They are like sunshine and happiness! I love them.

    • Reeni, the white chocolate adds a sweet creamy dimension to the lemon. In these bars the lemon comes from both juice and zest. The white chocolate smooths it all out. :) Wouldn’t it be wonderful to send someone a care package filled with sunshine and happiness!!!

  3. what a great way to make a lemon bar transportable! i admire your efforts here; it’s not always easy to turn something with one distinct flavor profile into something completely different, and it looks like you did it (and did it well!).

    • Thanks, Shannon! I think that these very closely maintain the flavor profile and only alter the texture of the traditional lemon bar. I guess these are more like a lemon brownie in feel and chew. A lemonie? :) Not easy is true, especially when you are working with limited knowledge, but its so much fun when you finally get it right. :)

  4. I am just starting to like lemon in desserts : ) And all of a sudden I feel bold and have been putting it in lots of baked goods! lol These look delicious – I love that icing too! I don’t even recognize myself anymore – me, like lemon? Crazy!

    • Thanks, Ashley! Once you start baking and playing with flavor combinations, there is no telling what new cravings will arise! :) I find that I like certain flavors only in certain textures. Like lemon. I like it in curd and in chewy things but not in cake or candy. And I LOVE lemonade or limoncello! (if we count those because they aren’t baked) :)

    • Thanks, Tricia! I think if the icing was left to dry overnight it would probably dry hard and be mail-able. But when short on time and determined to ice….I agree, send instructions in the care package to lick the paper! :)

    • Thanks, Jocelyn! Is it productive use of insomnia to imagine baked creations or the cause of insomnia do you think?! In any case, I am very glad to know I am not alone!! :)

  5. I love the combo of lemon and white chocolate. I have never seen them used together but I am imagining how good these are. I be t the lemon cuts the white chocolate’s sweetness. I also lay awake thinking about cookies! But then, I am thinking about them when I am on the treadmill and in spin class and …..

    • The lemon and white chocolate just seemed to make sense together. You are right, Cindy, the lemon cuts the sweetness of the white chocolate. Also, the white chocolate adds a creamy sweetness to the lemon. They are a good pair, I think, in a chewy bar. :) It is so good to hear that others ponder cookies and baking possibilities at random times day and night. :) I would fall off the eliptical if I thought about cookies while doing aerobic gym stuff, but my mind definitely wanders to baking when I am supposed to be clearing my mind during pilates!

    • Thanks, Sheryl! I think these lemon bars are picnic perfect; they travel well and don’t need refrigeration. If you try them please let me know what you think. :)

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