Do you recognize these lemon bars, Aunt Pam? They aren't quite like the ones you and my mom used to make, but they're close: a shortbread crust with a cheesecake layer and shortbread crumbs on top. I'm going to have to call you this weekend and find out what you do differently to make yours. I know you would use a lemon cake mix, and maybe even make them in a smaller pan so the bars come out thicker. These are close enough, however, to conjure memories of making lemon bars in your basement kitchen. We would cut the tiniest squares, trying to make them last (not that it worked). Happy Mother's Day, Mom and Aunt Pam, and to all the mothers out there!
I found this recipe at , and one of my favorite things about it is the short ingredient list. For the shortbread layer: 1 yellow or lemon cake mix, 1 egg and 1/2 cup neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola oil) . Mix together to combine into a crumbly dough.
I reserved 1 cup of the crumbly shortbread dough, then patted the rest into a 9 x 13-inch pan. Baked at 350F for 15 minutes.
While the crust baked, I made the cheesecake layer: Beat one 8-ounce block softened cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon each lemon juice and zest and 1 egg. Poured the cheesecake mixture over the baked crust, then crumbled the reserved 1 cup dough on top. Baked another 15 minutes, then cooled completely before cutting into squares.
This recipe is missing the lemon tang of the lemon bars of my memories, which would be remedied with a lemon cake mix or maybe some zest in the dough. I also should have tried to get the crumb mixture more uniformly mixed; next time I'll mix the egg and oil together, then add the cake mix and toss with a fork to moisten the mix. I find these irresistable, though, sweet and creamy. Maybe it's nostalgia.