Morning, Noon, and Night

Desserts need to be able to satisfy a sweet tooth, but do you really need anything else from them? If you're like me, it would be nice to have them versatile enough to fill several roles. I want them to make great meal endings, of course. But in the middle of the afternoon when I'm looking for something to go with my cup of coffee, I want them to pair well there and help keep hunger at bay until supper time. And, in a pinch, if it could stand in for breakfast, if not in a healthy way, at least one that gets me some nutrition and can hold me over until I have a chance to have something more resembling a breakfast. So, in that spirit, I present some stellar blueberry-lemon bars:

This thick bars are packed with lemon and blueberry and have a texture more like a brownie than cake. They aren't crumbly and would also be quite at home being packed in a lunchbox or set in front of a hungry kid after school. And with lots of yogurt in the mix, they stay moist for days — if they last that long. A quick note about blueberries: using fresh will keep the bar batter from taking on a blue hue, but even fresh berries tend to juice up a bit while baking, so don't be surprised if they bleed a bit on the bars and especially into the tangy glaze you drizzle over the top of the baked bars. I prefer to see it as an emerging work of art instead of any kind of problem. Besides, when you take a bit of one, you'll be unable to dismiss the intense flavor they have packed into them.

This recipe makes a big pan of bars. You could, if you wanted, reduce the recipe by half. Most everything is easy enough to tweak. You can opt to either use two eggs and omit the 1/4 cup of yogurt or use one egg and leave the yogurt in. Either will work. But really — make a standard batch. Even if you don't want to eat them all, take them into the office and watch your coworkers smile!

Blueberry-Lemon Bars

  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. plain yogurt (vanilla or lemon yogurt will also work)
  • 1 T. additional yogurt, lemon juice, or lime juice
  • 1 1/2 c. blueberries
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 2-3 T. lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon extract at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds. Add the yogurt and lemon juice and mix to combine. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until incorporated. Fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until skewer inserted into the bars comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack.

To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle evenly over the bars and allow it to harden, about 10 minutes, before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes