Prickly pear lemon bars are sweet and tangy and have a buttery crust that I could eat all by itself. They are a variation on my favorite lemon lime squares. While I wouldn’t make the prickly pear bars over the lemon lime squares every time, they are great for something different and the pink color is so striking!
Why Prickly Pear Lemon Bars
As a pregnant foodie, I often find myself at restaurants with top-tier bartenders and have recently begun to challenge them to make me tasty virgin drinks. Last night at Monarch, I had a drink with almond syrup, pear nectar, pomegranate, and lemon that was like nothing I had ever tasted before – in a good way. But (more relevant to this post), earlier in the week I visited a St. Louis restaurant, Agave, that had several virgin drink options on the menu. The bartender, Keith, recommended a drink that featured prickly pear and lemonade. He gave me a shot of the prickly pear juice on its own to entice me. Loved it! I proceeded to order the drink – which rocked my world. I decided right then that prickly pear would be the flavor of the week. Check out the cupcake version of these bars – prickly pear cupcakes.
Prickly Pear Lemon Bar Recipe
The prickly pear lemon bar recipe that I came up with was based on a recipe called Lemony Lime Squares that I originally found in a newspaper (the clipping is so old that I can’t tell which paper) as an adaptation from a recipe in the book Low-fat & Luscious Desserts by the American Heart Association. Here is my adaptation:
Prickly Pear Lemon Bars
- 1 C all-purpose flour
- 1/4 C sugar
- 1/4 finely chopped pecans
- 1/4 C butter softened
- 2/3 C sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 T all-purpose flour
- 3 T lemon juice
- 1/2 t lemon zest
- 3 T prickly pear juice You can easily make prickly pear juice with a prickly pear and a food processor or blender. Simply Recipes has a great tutorial on how to make prickly pear juice.
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 2 T powdered sugar optional
Prepare the cookie base
Mix flour, sugar, pecans, and butter until crumbly.
Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray or butter and press the mixture evenly on the bottom of the dish.
Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.
Prepare the topping and bake
Beat all topping ingredients except powdered sugar. Mixture will be thin.
Pour over hot crust.
Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until topping is set.
Allow to cool before cutting.
If you'd like, top the bars with powered sugar.
Finding Prickly Pear
Prickly pear is not easy to find in St. Louis. Some of my friends from other parts of the country have informed me that it’s practically a weed where they live. I thought for sure that our international supermarket would carry prickly pear, but they said they wouldn’t carry it until next month. Then, I checked a Mexican grocery and they told me to check the Asian grocery. Surprisingly, I found it at Whole Foods. I shop there almost daily, but I had never noticed prickly pears so that was the last place that I looked for them.
If you can’t find fresh prickly pear fruit and I’ve got you craving prickly pear, you may be able to find some other prickly pear products.
I was informed by my Twitter friend c_ellis that our local grocery store, Schnucks, sometimes carries prickly pear sorbet, so your local store might, too.
Bolthouse Farms makes a Prickly Pear Cactus Lemonade which will give you a taste of the flavor, but I found it to be way too sweet.
Lastly, you could always order one of the many prickly pear products available online. You can choose from syrups, jellies and jams, and candies.