I made: Lemon bars

Lemon bars are honestly one of my favorite desserts, and for some reason I’d never made them before.  I got another excellent, comprehensive recipe from The Kitchn to follow for this one.

How to make:

  • Preheat oven to 325F, coat 11×7 inch baking pan with cooking spray, and line dish with parchment paper “sling.”
  • Zest about 3 lemons (you need a little more than 2 tbsp).  Juice the lemons to get 1/2 cup of juice.
  • Make the shortbread crust: Mix 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp lemon zest, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt.  Cut in 8 tbsp cubed chilled butter.  Use a food processor if you have it; mix until coarse crumbs.
  • Press the crust into the pan using your fingers to really press down.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  • Parbake the crust 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
  • Make the filling: whisk together 4 large eggs, 1 large egg yolk, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 tbsp powdered sugar, 2 tbsp lemon zest, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt.  Then whisk in 1/4 cup lemon juice, followed by 1/4 cup flour until combined.
  • Pour the filling into the crust and bake 15-20 minutes, until light brown around the edges.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Dust with powdered sugar using a fine-mesh strainer.  Cut the bars once completely cooled.



  • Good recipe, no major issues in the instructions.  Obviously I don’t understand what it means to “dust” lemon bars with powdered sugar, because these look ridiculous.  (Fortunately, after 12 hours or so, the powdered sugar just absorbs into the top, so they don’t look quite as stupid, although they’re probably overly sweet.)
  • I don’t have a food processor so I just cut in the butter with a fork.  It took a long time and was kind of annoying, but didn’t seem to have any problematic consequences.


  • Aside from the other minor issues mentioned above, I’d like to make this in a smaller pan.  Mine was fine, but the bars looked a little skimpy.



I made: Gingersnaps and mini lemon cheesecakes

I had a vision yesterday of baking something with one of my favorite flavor combinations: lemon and ginger.

Note for anyone who’s happened upon this page: This is not a recipe blog.  If you’d like to bake gingersnaps or mini lemon cheesecakes using simple, easy-to-read recipes, please use the links I provide below.  If you’d like to read my notes about these recipes, by all means, continue.

I had a vision yesterday of baking something with one of my favorite flavor combinations: lemon and ginger.

The thought of mini lemon cheesecakes came to mind easily enough.  I have a fridge full of cream cheese right now, and I always love a good cheesecake anyway.  I found the mini lemon cheesecake recipe online, and decided I didn’t want to use store-bought gingersnaps, so I found a recipe for those, too.


Quick rundown of the gingersnaps (made about 48 cookies):

  • Mix dry ingredients:
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • I added: 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • Beat 11 tbsps softened butter, add 2/3 cup sugar
  • Add wet ingredients:
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 cup molasses
    • 1 egg
  • Mix in dry ingredients until dough is smooth.  Divide into 2 equal portions.  Roll out each into a log shape of about 2 inches circumference and wrap with plastic wrap, then freeze for at least 1 hour.  (Note: the recipe says to roll out the logs on a floured surface.  I used parchment paper instead and didn’t see any need for flour.)
  • Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheet with parchment.  Take out logs and slice into 1/4-inch rounds.  Dip one side into a bowl of granulated sugar, then place sugar-side up on baking sheet.  Cookies will spread while baking so leave some space.
  • Bake for 14 minutes.  (The recipe says 10-14 minutes, I wanted them nice and crispy to make crumbs.  They didn’t seem overbaked at all at 14 minutes, and probably could have gone even longer honestly.)
  • The recipe also said to rotate baking sheets midway, but I forgot to do so.  It didn’t seem to harm anything.
  • Let cookies cool on the sheet for 2 minutes after taking out, then remove to cooling rack.  I didn’t even need a spatula to remove them, they went very easily.

Making the gingersnaps took the longest out of each of the steps, because first I had to wait for the butter to soften, then I had to wait for the dough to freeze up.  I probably could have taken it out of the freezer earlier than I did.  Having a nice solid log helped to make the cookies pretty uniformly round, but I think it extended the baking time.  If uniformity isn’t as big a deal you could probably just slice up the log without freezing, and adjust baking time accordingly.


The cheesecakes were pretty easy.  The recipe makes 12 mini cheesecakes.  Step one: make the crust.

  • Line a cupcake tin with foil liners and preheat oven to 350F (if it isn’t still at 350 from the gingersnaps you just made).
  • Make the crust:
    • Melt 4 tbsp butter in microwave
    • Crunch up about 10 gingersnaps using a meat tenderizer and a plastic bag.  Measure out about 3/4 cup.
    • You can crunch up 1/4 cup pecans the same way or use a food processor.  I don’t have a food processor so I use a coffee grinder to crunch up nuts when I have to, it works pretty well and doesn’t leave a noticeable coffee flavor.
    • Mix up the butter, crumbs, and pecans with a spoon.
  • Press the crust into the liners.  Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes. Cool.

While it’s baking, make the cheesecake filling.  This part came together really fast.  The trick with cheesecake is to let the cream cheese sit out for awhile so it’s really soft.

  • Beat together 8 ounces of cream cheese with 2 tbsp sour cream.
  • Mix in other ingredients until smooth:
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tbsp lemon zest – I didn’t have this, so I put in an extra tbsp of lemon juice instead
  • Wait awhile for the crust to get cool.  This was the most annoying part, I put it in the freezer to speed it up.  Then spoon into the cups.
  • Bake at 350F.  The recipe says 15-20 minutes, I left them in for nearly 25 minutes and they were fine.  Cool.

Last step, make whipped cream.  The recipe I found suggested lemon curd AND whipped cream but that seemed too fancy for a weeknight, so I split the difference and made lemon whipped cream.  I was a tiny bit worried that the lemon might curdle the whipped cream, but that didn’t happen.

Whipped cream:

  • Beat 1 cup of heavy cream for a couple of minutes.
  • Add 2 heaping tbsp powdered sugar and 2 tsp lemon extract.
  • Beat for awhile longer until stiff peaks form.

The last step was to use a piping bag to pipe whipped cream onto the top of the cheesecakes.  I had way too much leftover whipped cream, I could have made half as much.  I also am still not great at figuring out how to pipe things.  But they turned out decent enough.


Eat with your fingers because you’re a real woman.


  • Both of these recipes were reasonably easy for me.  The gingersnaps were a little time consuming, but nothing terrible.  Overall, I probably started making these at 8pm, and was finished by 10:30pm, and that’s including all the time spent cooling stuff between steps.
  • Not to brag but the end product of the cheesecake tastes legitimately amazing.  I’m having to stop myself from finishing off the entire batch.
  • Lots of leftover gingersnaps too, which are going pretty fast here at work.
  • I think the standout concept is the butter/gingersnap/pecan mixture for the crust.  I could happily eat this with a spoon for the rest of my life.


  • If I were going to make again, I would make the cookies and the cheesecakes on separate nights just to give myself a little break.
  • I would try making the lemon curd as indicated in the original recipe.
  • I would want to decorate the tops with little gingersnap crumbs as indicated or maybe some lemon zest.
  • Don’t make quite so much whipped cream.
  • I actually think the lemon whipped cream was excellent but I’d want to try it with plain vanilla just to see if it complements better.
  • Just get better at piping whipped cream in general.