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Skinny Lemon Bars

Lighter-calorie desserts can leave you feeling deprived, but these skinny lemon bars aren’t what you might think. Enjoy the chilled, light texture and bright lemon flavor in a special treat you and your hips will love. 

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skinny lemon bars

There’s nothing like making a recipe when you don’t have the ingredients, and the morning I made these Skinny Lemon Mousse Bars it was a Saturday morning–8 a.m.–and I refused to drive 20 minutes to the store for what I needed. Because that’s just nuts people. So, I improvised and nearly killed myself.

The recipe that follows comes in at a mere 290 calories per serving (about a 2 1/2×2 1/2 inch square) IF you follow the real recipe.

Which I did not. But you will.

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I needed whipped topping (Cool Whip). Didn’t have any. But I did have a big container of heavy whipping cream. Now I know some of you have a love/hate relationship with whipped topping. So do I. It’s synthetic enough to wax your car with–or maybe clean your engine’s valves, but it’s a taste we love. If you want to use it go for it. If you want to whip up something that actually came from a cow (but blow your calories) go for real sweetened whipped cream.

Then I needed sweetened condensed milk. You guessed it.

Why don’t I just wait until I go to the store?

And it just happened that I had read something in a cook book the night before about making your own, so I dug it out. This is nuts. Who makes their own sweetened condensed milk? Me, apparently.

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So I mix the milk, a lot of sugar, some butter and vanilla on the stove and start simmering. For an hour. An hour! About halfway through, my husband (who was sitting about 3 feet from the stove) says, “Your stuff’s boiling over.”

He never budged.

I run and drag the foaming pot of syrupy milk onto another burner. Thanks for your help there honey. My kitchen smelled like burned marshmallows.

Like a campfire gone wrong.

“What’s burning? What’d you do mom?” Enter the five year old.

I should have gone to the store.

Then I needed a cookie crust. I opened a box of vanilla filled cookies and started scraping out the filling by hand–who does this?

You can use a premaid graham cracker crust if you want to and just make these in a pie shape, that works too. If not, crush up some graham crackers or ‘Nilla wafers in a bag and add just enough melted butter to hold them together, and press them in to your pan.

And so it went–a three hour process of making what was supposed to be a 5 ingredient, 10 minute, one-bowl dish.

I’m dumber than I thought I was.

But I have to say, full-fat version or light and airy, these frozen lemon mousse bars are really great. If you enjoy something sweet, you won’t blow your whole day’s calories on it and the lemon flavor pops–just make sure to add the zest too and not just the lemon juice.

This means you will need a $3 bag of lemons. Do  not use a bottle or you will take one taste and say mean things about me. You have been warned. Also take note: the lemon juice wants to sink to the bottom of the bowl as you stir, so mix it really well or add the juice slowly until it’s all combined.

If you don’t like lemon, you can use lime or even oranges and it will still be awesome.

skinny lemon bars

Skinny Lemon Bars

Frozen lemon bars have less than 300 calories each and are full of lemon flavor.
4.5 from 2 votes
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 226kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 1 8- ounce tub frozen light nondairy whipped topping thawed
  • 1 8- ounce can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon lime or orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons zest from the fruit you choose
  • 1 9- inch prepared vanilla or graham cracker crust

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, mix the whipped topping, condensed milk, juice and zest. Pour into the prepared crust and freeze 3-5 hours or until firm.
  • *If using cookies, or fresh graham crackers, crush cookies until you have about 2 cups; add 3/4 stick melted butter or margarine and press into an 8x8 square pan. Add topping and freeze. Cut into bars.

Nutrition

Calories: 226kcal

 

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Recipe Rating




Rachel Ballard

Thursday 16th of February 2017

Fabulous!

Sharon

Tuesday 9th of August 2016

This is absolutely delicious. I made it in a glass loaf pan with no crust of any kind, then cut slices and served. Yumo!

Rachel Ballard

Wednesday 10th of August 2016

That's a great idea Sharon! I love that you left off the crust and they still worked for you. I'm glad you enjoyed them--they're great with lime or orange too. :) --Rachel

Sharon

Tuesday 2nd of December 2014

Looks delish!! Was wondering if I use oranges, what kind would be the best to use?

Rachel Ballard

Wednesday 3rd of December 2014

Sharon, I thing just about any orange would work as long as you use the zest. A tangerine would be wonderful or any navel orange would also work. Let me know how that variation turns out if you give it a try--it would be like a creamscicle!

Suzie

Sunday 16th of November 2014

Dear Rachel, loved the description of your 'replacement' recipe. I'm sure we all think that we are the only mad person to do stuff like that! Saw a skit once that began with a spring roll (egg roll?) recipe, and with replacements became a toasted sandwich - bread for spring roll pastry, filling, then toasted rather than fried! I don't think we have that frozen cream stuff here (Australia) but the cream version sounds great.

Rachel Ballard

Tuesday 18th of November 2014

I make some serious messes from time to time Suzie. Wow--an egg roll that ended up toasted. That sounds like a pretty flexible cook to me. You don't have whipped topping in Australia, huh? Must be an American thing. You aren't missing out on much. It's 99.9% synthetic. Go with real whipped cream--it's more calories but at least it's real food!! Thanks for stopping by!-Rachel

Kari

Friday 15th of August 2014

These look delicious! I only have a 14.5oz can of condensed milk - should I crack it open and measure out the 8oz, or is the 8oz by weight?

Thank you!

Rachel Ballard

Friday 15th of August 2014

Hey Kari, just go ahead and measure 8 ounces (1 cup) of the milk and you'll be good to go. It's not 8 ounces by weight in this case. I hope you love them!