Right after culinary school, I went to work at Bliss Bakery down in McDonough, Ga. When I tell you this team was absolutely amazing. My kids were much younger, both were still in elementary school at this point. There favorite thing on the menu was all the different flavors of bars they offered. My dad is a lemon fanatic. His cakes are always lemon. ALWAYS! So I decided to play around and come up with a way to make a lemon bar. But then it hit me! Lemon Cheesecake bars would be a whole vibe.
The first time we tried this recipe I was making everything from scratch. Seriously. This was going to be the ultimate in sweet and tangy lemon bar goodness. After gathering my utensils from Le Cordon Bleu, I went to the farmers market and picked lemons. I was sniffing them and feeling for their firmness or softness. Probably looked like I knew what I was doing. NOPE! Straining lemons to catch pulp and seeds are NOT on my list of favorite things to do, so I knew I needed to figure something else out. Sifting flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar trying to create just the right amount of leavening in this recipe had me looking like a mad scientist.
Not from scratch option
Now at this point, we fully understand I took off my chef hat and put on my working mom hat. I work full time (as a chef instructor) and I teach a lot of moms how to create birthday cakes for their kids. Something better then the chain grocery store but not as extravagant as a custom birthday cakes like I create in my business.
I knew if I started with cake mix as a base it would handle most of the scientific portion of the recipe. Seriously, why reinvent the wheel here. It’s the perfect portions of flour, sugar and baking powder. Reluctantly I ditched the fresh squeezed lemon juice and just bought some at the store.
It was at this moment I realized there was a way to make everything I wanted to taste and please the entire family without having to be “Pastry Chef Mommy!” What do average moms do? They find shortcuts. By far the greatest revelation I could have ever had.
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- 1 box white or yellow cake mix (whatever is cheapest)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs (divided)
- 1 package cream cheese, softened
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Lightly spray 13*9 inch baking pan with non stick spray
- Combine cake mix, oil, and 1 whole egg in large bowl
- Stir with wooden spoon or spatula until crumbly
- Set aside 1 cup of the crumb mixture
- Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 15 mins and allow to cool on cooling rack
- Beat cream cheese, remaining egg, vanilla and lemon juice on medium high speed with electric mixer.
- Smooth over top of pre-baked crumble mix.
- Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of crumb mixture over the top.
- Bake 15 mins or until it just sets.
- Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
- Cut into bars and ENJOY!
- Using a wire wrack to cool between steps elevates the pan to speed up the cooling process. If you do not have a cooling rack allow for additional cooling time.
- These can be eaten at room temperature or cold.
- Store in air tight container