Looking for a fun, festive Lemon Cookie Bars recipe? Try this easy recipe that adds cream cheese frosting and sparkling ruby red pomegranate seeds on top! (Jump directly to the recipe.)
I have an exceedingly prolific lemon tree in our backyard. Though we have other fruit trees out there, most of them are picked over by the birds but they leave the lemons alone. Even though I’m not the only one that goes back there to pick lemons anymore (apparently my next door neighbor has discovered his love of lemons recently), we still have a hard time keeping up with the fruit. Turns out I hadn’t made a lemon cookie in awhile so I plucked a few lemons down, went to town on them, and whipped up these Lemon Cookie Bars with Pomegranate Seeds.
Of course, with all the heavy chocolate and deep rich ginger spice that I’ve been baking with here at the Eat the Love headquarters (I say that as if I’m a giant corporation, and not a sole person hanging out in my tiny 1 bedroom which I share with my partner AJ) I’ve been looking for a bit of a break. Thankfully wintertime fruit isn’t just about apples and pears either (as much as I love them). Citrus is king around these parts!
Of course, I’m a huge fan of pomegranates too. AJ adores the brightly colored ruby red seeds, popping them in his mouth by the handful. I personally find it extremely satisfying to deseed a pomegranate, but if you find it too fussy, you can certainly buy just the plain pomegranate seeds from a place like Trader Joe’s. The sweet tart cream cheese frosting binds the lemon cookie bar to the seeds tying it all together. A perfect bright little alternative to sweet butterscotch cookies with triple chocolate chips or chocolate double rye cookies with a holiday feel!
Lemon Cookie Bars with Pomegranate Seeds
By Irvin Lin
These cookie bars are a great interplay of soft chewy blondie-style cookie infused with lemon, sweet tangy cream cheese frosting and a burst of bright tart juice and crunch from the pomegranate seeds. The almond meal adds a nice touch of nuttiness and moisture. If you don’t have almond meal or flour, just throw 1 1/4 cup whole almonds into a food processor and pulse until you have powder. Or, if you don’t have almonds, just add an extra 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour in it’s place. Just makes sure to store the cookie bars in the fridge (because of the cream cheese frosting and pomegranate seeds) and take them out an hour before serving so they come to room temperature.
11 tablespoons (150 g or 1 3/8 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups (400 g) white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (55 g) dark brown sugar
zest from 1 medium lemon
2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 1/4 cup (315 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (140 g) almond meal or flour (see note above)
3 oz white chocolate
8 oz (1 brick) cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar
Zest from 1 medium lemon
1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Lightly spray a 10 x 15 inch rimmed baking sheet and line with a piece of parchment paper with an inch or two of paper hanging over the edge.
2. Pour the melted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugars and lemon zest to the butter and mix on medium speed to incorporate. Add the lemon extract and vanilla extract and mix to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix to incorporate, making sure that each egg is full blended in before adding the next egg. Add the flour and almond meal and mix to incorporate.
3. Spread the dough (it will be sticky) in the lined baking sheet, making sure it’s evenly distributed to the edges. Bake in the oven 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges of the cookie dough starts to turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cookie cool in the pan on a wire rack completely.
4. Once cooled, make the cream cheese frosting by first chopping the white chocolate into small 1/4 inch chunks and placing them in a metal bowl fitted over a small pot with a little bit of water. Make sure the metal bowl isn’t touching the water and turn the heat on and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat off and let the residual heat from the water steam melt the white chocolate. While the white chocolate is melting, place the cream cheese in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth, then sift the confectioners’ sugar over it. Beat until incorporated. Scrape the melted white chocolate into the frosting and beat to incorporate.
5. Place the lemon zest in a small bowl and sprinkle the sugar over it. Let it sit while you frost the sheet cookie completely to the edges over the cookie. Sprinkle the top of the frosting with the sugared lemon zest (it will be moist, as the sugar has dissolved and made it sticky). The lemon zest will stick together so do your best to separate the zest to evenly distribute it over the cookie. Sprinkle the pomegranates over the frosting as well. Chill the lemon cookie bars in the fridge, uncovered for an hour, then cut into squares or triangles, trying not to cut through any pomegranate seeds. Store in the fridge, but serve at room temperature.
Makes 4 square cookie bars or 48 triangle cookie bars.
If you like this lemon cookie bar, try my other lemon recipes:
Strawberry Lemon Shortcake
Tequila Glazed Lemon Bread with Rosemary Walnut Filling
Strawberry Meyer Lemon Cream Pie
Cherry Pistachio Meyer Lemon Cornmeal Muffins with Streusel Topping
Lemon Ginger Bars on Salted Shortbread with Meringue Topping
And be sure to check out these other awesome looking lemon recipes from around the web:
Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Blueberry Rolls with Lemon Glaze
The Novice Chef’s Lemon Danish
Simply Scratch Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes
Cooking Classy’s Glazed Lemon Cookies
Shugary Sweet’s Lemon Tart with Macadamia Nut Crust