Mango Monday: Mango Lemon Bars

Before a family get-together, there are many phone calls made between the aunties and the cousins, all about who is supposed to bring what. Oh, glorious potluck planning. We exchange requests (my cousin Stacey makes some amazing dips), and we all come up with a million different things to fill up the buffet table...and the dessert table. This is where my contribution usually lands. Just last week, I made Carrot Cupcakes for my godson Noah's birthday party!

For this weekend, though, my dessert would need to be able to survive a 2-hour drive on a hot, Summer afternoon. Anything frozen or topped with delicate buttercream were pretty much out of the question. (Easy transportation, please.) Ultimately, bars popped into my head as the perfect, tasty solution! They're easy to make, easy to transport, and easy to serve as a party food!

Mango Lemon Bars are a tropical twist on the classic recipe. The shortbread crust is freckled with lemon zest and vanilla bean, and the creamy filling is made with fresh mango puree and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Together, they make a sweet-tooth-satisfying and mouth-puckering dessert!

Over the years, I've played around with different shortbread recipes. (Even the hard-boiled egg trick, you ask? Yup.) Some are super buttery, some are dry and crisp. This particular shortbread crust, from 6 Bittersweets' Lemon Lilikoi Bars, uses cornstarch and powdered sugar to give it a tender yet crumbly texture.

Finely grated lemon zest and all of the little vanilla beans really infuse the crust with rich vanilla and bright citrus.

Side note: Who needs perfume when you can walk around smelling like lemon zest and vanilla bean all day? Eau de Lemon Bars.

After adding the cubed butter to the dry ingredients, and pulsing a few times, the texture of the dough will still be very dry. You know that all of the butter is evenly distributed, though, when you pinch the mixture between your fingers and it sticks together.

Line a 9" x 13" pan with parchment paper, then press the dough into an even layer on the bottom. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

To make the filling, whisk together the eggs and sugar.

Pour in the freshly squeezed lemon juice. (At some point, I'd love to try making these with calamansi!)

The next addition is mango! For an ultra-smooth puree, I used Manila mangoes. During the summertime, these golden and nectar-sweet mangoes are all over the markets, Asian markets, and even just your regular grocery store. The ripe flesh is so smooth that you can scoop it out with a spoon. (I actually do "scoopy mangoes" as a dessert all on their own. Often.)

The mango puree takes a bit of a backseat to the lemon, flavor-wise, but it helps to make a rich and velvety filling for these bars.

Finally, sift the flour over the top and whisk it in. The sifting prevents uncooked clumps in the finished product. (Nobody likes biting into one of those...)

Pour the filling right over the baked crust, and bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. The center will be slightly jiggly, but mostly set.

Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then transfer the pan to the refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour. The filling will completely set, and this makes it easier to slice into.

To make clean cuts, use a sharp knife and rinse it often!

And, because no lemon bar is complete without it, sprinkle on a light cloud of powdered sugar.

These Mango Lemon Bars have a melt-in-your-mouth crust, and the filling is sweet, tangy, and creamy! You can slice them into squares for a classic look, or you can slice them into petite bars and add them to your very own dessert buffet. They're the perfect mini-bite for Summer! (Definitely a hit at my Auntie Jessie's party!)

Mango Lemon Bars (makes 16 squares; up to 48 petite bars)

Print Recipe
1 3/4 cup Flour
2/3 cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1 tsp Finely Grated Lemon Zest
1 Vanilla Bean, split & seeded
3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, cubed & chilled
6 large Eggs
1 1/3 cups White Granulated Sugar
1 1/3 cups Manila Mango Puree (2-3 Manila Mangoes)
1/3 cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (1-2 Lemons)
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9" x 13" pan with parchment paper.
  2. To make the dough for the crust, combine the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon zest, and vanilla beans in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Then, add the cubes of cold butter and pulse to incorporate the butter. (The texture will still be crumbly, but the mixture should come together when you pinch it between your fingers)
  3. Press the dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared 9" x 13" pan. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Set the crust aside, and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  4. To make the filling, combine the eggs, sugar, mango, and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Sift the flour over the top of the mixture, then whisk to combine evenly. Pour the filling over the baked crust, then return the pan to the oven. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Before removing from the oven, the center should only be slightly jiggly, but mostly set, when you shift the pan.
  5. Set the pan aside on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then chill the bars in the refrigerator until completely set.
  6. Serve by sprinkling powdered sugar over the top and slicing into equal-sized pieces. Enjoy!