Spring Time Lemony Vanilla Bars

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lemon bars, lemon squares, lemon desserts Usually on Wednesdays, as most of you know, I feature a “how-to” post.  Something along the lines of me giving you awesome tips, tricks and suggestions for cooking a specific recipe or food.  Obviously today…is not going to be a how-to post.  Those take a little more time and effort.  Which at the current moment, I do not have.  I’m have a big fat clinical case study paper and presentation due tomorrow.  And I’m mostly done (thank God!)…but I didn’t get a chance dedicate my usual weekend and free weeknights to develop a great how-to recipe for you.  Sorry guys.

But don’t worry, I still have a great recipe to share with you – my vanilla-scented lemon bars!  It’s probably one of my all time favorite recipes…like ever.    I’m not a huge citrus fan, which makes me wonder why I’m so obsessed with these delicious lemony squares of amazing-ness.  But nevertheless, my heart belongs to them!  And Dario’s too!  In fact, the last time I made these (and I’m semi embarrassed to admit this) we ate the ENTIRE pan of them in 24 hours.  Not in one sitting though – so it’s not that bad, right?  Yes it is….

These are a great spring time dessert.  They’re bright, zingy and super light.  You won’t get weighed down with these little bars (except when you eat 5 of them).  Plus, they’re really easy to make and store wonderfully in the fridge for a few days of lemony bliss.  I usually whip up two batches of these.  Only because the first batch is devoured by Dario and I so friends and family miss out on those.  Thus the need for 2 batches.

Vanilla-Scented Lemon Bars:


  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
    Place 1/2 cup flour, 2 tbsp powdered sugar, pine nuts, and salt in a food processor; pulse a few times to combine. Add butter and canola oil. Pulse until mixture resembles wet sand. In a 8″ square baking dish, add in the crust mixture and press evenly over the bottom of the pan. Use the bottom of a glass to get a nice compact crust. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven.
    Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
    Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tbsp flour, lemon zest, vanilla extract, lemon juice and eggs in a medium bowl, whisking until smooth. Pour lemon mixture over crust.
    Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until the center set. Remove from oven, and cool pan on a wire rack.
    Cover and put the bars into the fridge for at least 2 hours. After they have completely cooled, slice into 16 squares – wet knife in between each cut for even, mess-free slices.

You tell me!  What’s your favorite lemony recipe?  Have a favorite lightened up dessert?


  1. The Candid RD (Gina)

    March 20, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I made lemon bars this same time last year, and they looked almost identical to these! However, yours have more ingredients and do actually sound a bit better 🙂 Thanks for sharing! I’ve never used pastry flour, ever. I’m crazy, I know.

    • mewinebrenner

      March 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      The pastry flour is nice, just because regular whole wheat flour can be kinda grainy. This flour is so silky and soft – but still fiber-licious!

  2. Sara @ Nourish and Flourish

    March 25, 2013 at 2:33 am

    These look AMAZING! Like you, I’m not a huge fan of citrus, but lemon bars hold a very special place in my heart. I’d say they’re one of my top three favorite bar cookies. I love the addition of vanilla, too–so unique!

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend, Maria! <3

    • mewinebrenner

      March 25, 2013 at 7:43 am

      The vanilla just adds a little something, something. I really like it! Hope you try it!

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