By Diana Rattray
Southern Food Expert, about.com
These delicious lemon cream cheese bars are made with a brown sugar and nut shortbread crust and crumb topping.
The lemon-flavored cream cheese filling isn't overly sweet and it's made with only 8 ounces of cream cheese, a small amount of milk, and the juice and zest of about 1/2 of a lemon.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon half-and-half or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
Heat oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, pecans or walnuts, brown sugar, and butter. Using your hands, blend ingredients together until the dough is crumbly. Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture.*
Spread the remaining crumb mixture in pan. Bake the crust for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to a rack.
Meanwhile, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, cream cheese, granulated sugar, milk, vanilla, and egg in a mixing bowl.
Beat the mixture with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of bowl occasionally.
Pour the cream cheese lemon mixture over the hot baked crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture evenly over lemon cheese layer. Bake for 25 minutes longer, or until lightly browned. Chill for 2 hours before serving. Cut into bars. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or store in the freezer. Makes about 18 to 24 bars, depending on size.
*If desired, use all of the crumbs in the bottom crust and top the chilled bars with sifted confectioners' sugar just before serving.