Growing up, I had quite a collection of stuffed animals and dolls that I used to sleep with at night. They were lined up next to me, taking up the majority of the bed, in an order that I cannot recall its basis. I wasn’t terribly clever at naming these stuffed bundles of love sadly. There was my big brown bear that I affectionately called “Brownie”. And then there was my little white bear that I called, “Whitey”. Who could have imagined that I would name my stuffed elephant the most imaginative name of all, “Ellie”.
I did have one yellow bear that I stretched for, naming it Sunshine. There it was – a spark of creativity! Sunshine also played a Brahms Lullaby so perhaps it was destined to be distinguished from the rest of the gang. I never realized how wanting my naming skills were quite honestly. It was my husband who pointed it out when I was once sharing this part of my childhood.
So, when I was preparing to title this post, a recipe for a yellow “brownie” that the original author called Lemony Lemonies, I found myself in that old childhood habit thinking that maybe I should call them….Yellowies? Good grief. That single action reminded me of my beloved stuffed animals, leading to the sharing above.
It also inspired the name of these bars – Sunshine Bars – in honor of my little yellow teddy bear. Sunshine bars are truly like a burst of sunshine in your mouth, filled with lots of tart lemon juice and zest. They are not a lemon bar, however. They are a more dense, brownie-like bar that is topped with a citrusy icing that reinforces the lemon flavor.
These bars would be a great dessert to serve at Easter which is just two weeks away! Or at a Mother’s Day brunch or a shower perhaps. They are very feminine and pretty, but the hubs reached for a second when he tried them which is saying a lot because he’s not a big sweets eater. If you love or even like lemon, you are going to really like these Sunshine bars I promise you. I’m curious about how they might taste if you use lime or orange juice and zest in place of the lemon too. If anyone tries that, please let me know!
The inspiration recipe is from Bakerella. I tinkered with it just a bit, rewriting the recipe but also reducing the sugar in the actual bar by 25%. I also substituted Cassava Flour for the All-Purpose to see if that was a viable gluten free option – it was. If you haven’t used Cassava Flour, it is light in texture and mild in flavor, made from the Yuca root vegetable. It is also grain-free and nut-free so it covers a lot of basis. I am going to start experimenting more with this flour for sure. This is the brand I use…
As an aside, have you tried Cassava Bread? It is not easy to find, but I discovered it at a market and have used it in place of crackers or as a base for some smoked salmon. If you are gluten-free or gluten sensitive, you should give it a try. It is very fragile, however so I’m not sure purchasing it online is the best option. Here is a picture of one that is similar to mine…
And now, let’s take a look at my Sunshine Bars…
My husband and our younger daughter, with whom we were face timing yesterday, teased me a bit when they saw the motley crew below assembled for a photo (not sure how I would look if I were stored in plastic for 30+ years, just sayin’). But I thought you’d get a kick out of seeing a few of my teddies (as did I)…
Until next time…
Two Years Ago: Miami Culinary Tours
Three Years Ago: Review of Red Bird in Waltham, Massachusetts
Four Years Ago: Summer Vegetable Ceviche
Sunshine Bars are adapted slightly from Bakerella (link in post). My version reduces the sugar in the actual bar by 25% and gives you the option of using Cassava Flour for a gluten free version. The bars are brownie-like in texture, full of lemony flavor and topped with an equally tangy icing. I like to eat these while they still have a little chill from the fridge. Enjoy!
- 1 cup flour, all-purpose or cassava flour for a gluten free option
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest *
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice *
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice *
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- * For the recipe, one large lemon should yield all of the zest needed and most of the juice. Depending on how juicy your lemons are, you may need to squeeze an additional half of a lemon to get the 5 Tablespoons needed for the recipe.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Grease an 8-inch glass baking pan or line the pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray for easy removal.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and 1 Tablespoon lemon zest.
- Add the cooled melted butter, 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, eggs and vanilla. Stir until completely combined but do not over mix.
- Pour batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the bars to completely cool before preparing the icing.
- For the icing, sift the confectioners sugar into a medium bowl. Add the 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon zest and stir until the mixture is completely smooth. Pour over the bars and smooth using an offset spatula if needed. Sprinkle any remaining zest over the icing. Let the bars rest until the icing sets, or put them in the fridge for quicker results.
- Cut into small bars and serve. Store in the refrigerator.
I agree, Marta. My stuffed animals did not survive the many years in the attic– they basically disintegrated : ( BUT, these bars look lovely, Val! I wonder how an addition of ginger would be — either in the bar, or the icing?
I like the sound of ginger – probably in the bar and just a hint of powdered. Fresh might overpower. Try it and let me know! xoxo
It is clear that you shone in bear care. Those little guys look really good after all these years.
Too funny 🙂
I second that – those animals are adorable! On another note, are you ever able to include calorie content in your recipes?
Thank you! I am redesigning my website and will look into your question.