The foot of snow and flurries dancing outside my window are pretty, but summer just feels so far away. I knew I couldn’t get through another polar vortex without making some sort of summer-feeling treat. Last summer, I filled that lemon craving with lemon curd filled lemon poppy seed muffins, and now it’s these Greek yogurt lemon bars with a pecan shortbread crust.
These started in my mind as a lemon cheesecake, and then transformed through a few mental variations, like cheesecake bikes and Greek yogurt cheesecake. Finally, I threw the whole idea of using any cream cheese at all away and landed here.
These remind you of cheesecake, but instead of being thick and rich, they are light and fluffy. I like to think of them as just another way to eat yogurt in the morning – no spoon required.
The filling on these is fairly tart. There’s not a ton of added sugar, and I use lemon juice and zest. But it’s okay, because the pecan shortbread crust counters that sourness with a nutty and crumbly sweetness. Plus, nuts makes everything feel healthier.
These were a true experiment for me, and I wasn’t sure how well they’d set up and work, but I am so happy with how they turned out. They hold together perfectly. I took no chances there, including cornstarch, eggs, and of course plenty of citric acid in the lemon juice.
I’m excited to explore this new Greek-yogurt as cheesecake venture and see what else I might come up with in this family. But for now, here’s a summery treat perfect for a bitter winter day. Enjoy!
Greek Yogurt Lemon Bars with Pecan Shortbread Crust
- 1/2 Cup Pecans finely chopped
- 1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/2 Cup Butter softened
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar packed
- 2 1/2 Cups Greek Yogurt nonfat
- 3 Eggs
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
- Lemon Juice from 3 lemons
- Lemon Zest from two lemons
- Powdered Sugar for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
- Add in the pecans and flour, and continue mixing until the dough sticks together and is no longer crumbly.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on low until combined.
- Press the dough into the parchment lined pan in an even layer, working the dough into the corners and edges.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes, until it begins to look slightly dry around the edges. It will still be soft. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl, and mix together until thoroughly combined. You can use the stand mixer on medium-low for the step.
- Pour the filing over the cooled shortbread. It needs to be fully cooled and slightly hardened, or the filling will crack the crust.
- Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes, until no longer jiggly in the middle. This time may vary based on how much juice you got out of your lemons. Start with the low end, and add more if needed.
- Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight in the pan
- Once completely chilled, use the parchment to remove from the pan and cut into 12 bars. Topped with powdered sugar if desired, and serve chilled, or after sitting at room temperature for up to 30 minutes, for best results.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for 1-2 days. I suggest not adding any sugar on top until just before serving. If needed, stack with parchment paper in between so they don't stick together.