Blue Ridge Bites: Dessert Bar competition! Try this Lemon Bars recipe

Have a favorite dessert bar recipe? Enter yours in the Virginia Egg Council state competition!

The 2023 Virginia Egg Council-sponsored recipe contest is searching for some Five Star dessert bar recipes!

Mary Rapoport with the Virginia Egg Council says dessert bars are always a favorite staple for families and are very trendy in the baking world right now. Bakers can enter their favorite recipe in their local fair contest.

Local fair’s top three recipe winners will receive a gift from the Virginia Egg Council and will be eligible to compete at the finals, to be held at the State Fair of Virginia, on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. Sign up your fair here.

Need some recipe ideas or tips to make the best dessert bars? Mary has some tips and a great recipe from Southern Living Magazine.

Lemon Bars (Southern Living Magazine’s Favorite!)

Nothing is easier or tastier than a great dessert bar recipe – and here is one that Southern Living magazine says is their “simplest (and best) recipe ever”. We tested it using fresh lemons and also tried it with frozen lemon juice and found it’s just a tad bit less wonderful than using fresh lemons, but way easier. And we added the two knives cutting the flour mixture technique for the crust, old-school style, for less mess under a fresh manicure!

The really lovely, tart custard is a bright yellow and freezes well for your next gathering. We sometimes like to cut the squares into smaller ‘fingers’ for just a pop-in-your-mouth small bite, and we like to serve them in cupcake papers for that fresh-from-the-bakery look.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

½ cup butter, cubed and softened

¼ tsp. kosher salt

6 large eggs, room temp

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)

1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest

Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8″ or 9″ square pan with baking spray then line bottom and sides with parchment paper, crisscross fashion, leaving a 1″ overhang.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour and ¼ cup of the granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Add butter and work it into flour mixture, using your fingers, or crisscrossing two knives, until a shaggy dough forms and no large chunks remain. (Mixture should hold together when squeezed.) Press evenly into bottom and about ½” up sides of pan. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven until lightly browned, 20-25 min.

Whisk together remaining ½ cup flour, ¾ cup granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs and lemon juice, whisking mixture just until combined. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, using a spatula to press mixture through strainer. Discard solids and whisk in grated lemon zest.

Reduce oven temp to 300°F. Carefully pour filling over crust and bake, uncovered, until filling is set around edges and jiggles slightly in center, 20 – 25 min.

Let pan cool on a wire rack about 20 min. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until filling is completely set, 1 ½ hr. – 3 hours.

Carefully lift up and out of baking pan, using parchment as handles onto cutting board. Cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving. Slice into 16 squares

Virginia Egg Council – – 540 556 9958 –

For more great recipes from Mary and the Virginia Egg Council, visit their website or email ~

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