I received a request for some healthier versions of these two treats from Kristen, whose husband “loves all thing lemon.” I hope he enjoys them Kristen!
Traditional lemon squares are loaded with butter, eggs and sugar, resulting in a high calorie, high fat treat. With a few easy changes I reduced the calories by nearly 50 percent and the fat by two-thirds! But don’t worry Kristen, they are still deliciously tangy and sweet, with a rich “buttery” crust – I have been using this recipe to make my lemon bars for years now – especially for holidays and special occasions, and I haven’t had any complaints yet!! As a matter of fact, they are normally one of the first desserts to “disappear” at all of our gatherings.
Just for reference, traditional lemon bars have 197 calories, 8 g total fat, and 5 g saturated fat. This version- for the same sized serving- has 66 calories, 2 g total fat, and less than 1 g saturated fat!!
1/4 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
scant 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
additional confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray the bottom of an 8 inch square baking pan with nonstick spray.
Beat the 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar and butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the 1/2 cup of pastry flour and mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake until just golden brown (about 10 to 12 minutes). Cool on a wire rack and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
While the oven temperature reduces, whisk the eggs on medium speed until foamy. Add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture over the baked crust and return to the oven until “set” (about 20 to 25 minutes – do not touch the filling with your fingers or it will stick to them and you will have a big dent in your bars!) Cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into 12 squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Makes 12 servings (squares). Per Square: 66 calories, 2 g total fat, less than 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 14 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g added sugar, 4 g protein, 46 mg sodium, 92 mg cholesterol.