Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sweet Tart Lemon Squares

I'm not a parent but I am an aunt to five nieces and nephews who as young adults now live on the opposite side of the country. Number four--my brother's older daughter--just launched university life. As anyone who loves the  young people in their life knows, communications can be a rare thing. So, it's utter joy when you get a text from them out of the blue to say hi and then even get a modest dialogue going. Last week ours more or less went like this:

"How are you?" 
"School is going well. Nothing I can't handle (I hope)" 
"Anything you'd like from SD?" 
"Homecooked food and sleep are all that I really need." 
"Guess it's time to start baking." 
"You're awesome"
"How do you feel about lemon squares? Or are you craving something else? You name it!"
"Anything as long as it doesn't have caramel!'

Well, the caramel thing was news to me. But the lemon squares were on. 

In my family, lemon squares are one of those treats that seemed always to be part of the family sweets repertoire, along with chocolate chip cookies, mandelbread, lemon cake, and snowball cookies. I have a well-used recipe that I got from my mother but not credited to anyone. When I asked her about it over the weekend, she said she got it from a friend in Palm Springs. Sadly, I don't think she even remembers the name of this blessed creature whose generosity has given us so much joy over so many years.

The recipe is simple and straightforward--very much like pouring lemon curd over shortbread and baking them together. The resulting cookie is sweet and tart, creamy and crunchy. I could eat them all day long. And, they freeze beautifully. I actually made two batches, sending the second to my brother and the rest of his family. Hopefully, they'll arrive intact for all of them to enjoy!

Lemon Squares
(printable recipe)
Yield: About 2 dozen

For cookie:
1 cup sweet butter (2 sticks)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powder sugar (plus more to sprinkle)
Preheat oven to 350˚. Blend ingredients in a food processor. Then spread in a buttered 9" X 13" baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes--until the edges are slightly brown.

Mix together until smooth:
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pour the mixture over the baked cookie. Return the baking dish to the over and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until set. 

Remove from the oven and sprinkle well with more powder sugar. Cut when cool.

Can be frozen.

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