The idea was simple -- I wanted to make a lemon meringue-inspired dessert for a party that would be easy to serve and would make for a pretty presentation with a birthday candle. So, I introduced my favorite lemon bar recipe to my favorite lemon meringue pie recipe. Their offspring, the Lemon Meringue Pie Bar has a tender shortbread crust, the rich lemon curd filling of one parent, and the light and toasty meringue topping of the other.
Lemon Meringue Pie Bars
(makes approx. 2-dozen)
For the crust:
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
- 6 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup flour
- 1 Tablespoon melted butter, cooled slightly
For the meringue:
- 5 egg whites
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 350°
Step 1: Prepare a 9x13 baking sheet by buttering and lining with parchment paper so that the parchment overhangs the edges of the pan (this will make it easier to remove the bars from the pan and will help prevent burning around the edges).
Step 2: With an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add flour and salt, and mix on low until dough comes together.
Step 3: Dump the dough in the prepared pan. With a floured hand, press dough evenly into pan to form a crust. Chill for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Bake the crust for 15 minutes (until very lightly browned). Cool on a wire rack while preparing filling. Leave oven on.
Step 5: For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, flour and melted butter. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature, then chill for one hour.
Step 6: Remove from pan and cut into rectangles (I cut mine to 3” x 1.5”). Separate desserts on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to apply meringue.
Step 7: Bring 1 inch of water to simmer in a pot. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar. Place bowl over the simmering pot and whisk until the mixture is warm and smooth.
Step 8: Place bowl on mixer stand fitted with the balloon whisk attachment and whip, on high, to stiff peaks (8-10 minutes). Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe meringue on top of the bars.
Step 9: Brown the meringue by rotating the pan under a broiler, or by using a butane torch. Chill until ready to serve.