These brightly-colored hibiscus lemon bars are bursting with tart flavor. While white chocolate adds sweetness to the bar, it also helps shield the crust from getting soggy. I prefer my bars to have a bit of a shortbread bite. Even with egg yolks and lemon juice, the naturally occurring color from hibiscus flowers is so strong that the bars maintain a vivid magenta pink; no dye required! Plus, you can keep the strained hibiscus leaves to reuse! Another one of hibiscus' beauty is that you can use it repeatedly.
I learned early in my career that having the right tools for baking will always set you up for success. So, before getting into this recipe, I've made a list of tools that will help you along the way:
- Fine mesh strainer
- Food processor
- Stand mixer
- 9x13 sheet tray (jelly roll pan)
- Loaf pan, for smoothing out crust
- Parchment paper
- Off-set spatula
- I like to use non-melting sugar aka donut sugar
- Candied edible flowers for that ooh and ahh factor (below)
📸 by @Lisathompson
- 1/ 3 cup (60g) salted roasted macadamia nuts, toasted
- 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoons (40g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (135g) all-purpose flour
- 1/ 4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (4-ounce) bar white chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/ 3 cup (100g) unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
Lemon Hibiscus Filling:
- 1 1/ 2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 8 large lemons)
- 1/ 2 cup (40g) dried hibiscus flowers or tea
- 1 1/ 4 cup (250g) granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks (reserve 1 egg white for sugared flowers)
- 4 large eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter
- 1/ 3 cup (75g) buttermilk
- 1 reserved egg white
- Edible flowers
- Granulated sugar
For Garnish (optional):
- Powdered sugar
- Sugared Flowers
- Thinly sliced lemons
- Toasted coconut flakes or coconut chips
Infuse lemon juice:
Combine lemon juice, dried hibiscus, and sugar in a small pot over medium-low heat. Warm until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to steep 1 hour, or until completely cooled, stirring every so often. Strain hibiscus flowers from lemon juice and sugar mixture. Lemon-hibiscus mixture can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Make the crust:
Spray a quarter sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
Add ground macadamia nuts, butter, sugar, flour, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir on low speed to combine ingredients. Increase speed to medium just until combined and crumbly-small butter chunks should still be visible. Pour onto prepared sheet tray. Gently spread out crumbs over entire sheet as evenly as possible. Begin pressing down crust to completely cover bottom of tray. Top with a sheet of parchment and press down to even out crust. (Tip: you can use the bottom of a loaf pan to press down in sections to condense crust, followed by using a sweeping motion to completely smooth out.) Prick all over with a fork to “dock” the crust, then freeze for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Bake crust until golden brown and set, about 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle chopped white chocolate immediately over top and let melt for 2 minutes. Spread chocolate into a thin, even layer, then sprinkle evenly with coconut. Let crust cool completely. (Crust can be made in advance and stored tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to one week.)
Make the filling:
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Whisk lemon-hibiscus mixture with egg yolks and whole eggs until completely combined. Whisk constantly over medium heat until curd begins thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and buttermilk. Pour filling over cooled crust and spread evenly. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just set. Mixture should be jiggly. Let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.
Make the sugared flowers (optional):
Whisk egg white until foamy. Brush edible flowers with egg white. Sprinkle evenly with sugar. If sugar dissolves, sprinkle again until coated. Set on a wire rack and let dry at room temperature for 24 hours.
Cut and Decorate:
If moisture has collected on top of curd, gently lay a paper towel over top and peel off carefully.
Cut ¼ inch off each side using a sharp knife, wiping knife between slices. Use an offset spatula to remove scraps. Now, score into 12 even bars (you can do 3” x 4” or 2” x 4” rectangles.) Slice through with a clean knife, making sure to wipe between slices. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. Remove slices from baking sheet with offset spatula, then garnish as desired with sugared flowers, lemon slices, and toasted coconut. Serve immediately. (Plain bars can be stored in the fridge until ready to serve, just be sure to hold off on decorating until last minute.)