I have a thing for lemon desserts, especially lemon squares. Luckily for me lemon squares are often one of the featured desserts at potlucks, picnics and on the buffet lines at work meetings and conferences. Unluckily for me, the quality of these lemon squares varies greatly. Some are all crust with hardly a lemon layer to speak of, others have soggy bottoms and way to much powdered sugar topping (choking on powdered sugar or getting it all over your work clothes is not all that fun..!).
Believe it or not, I’ve actually started to inspect lemon squares closely before picking one up to eat. If I am going to indulge in a treat, I want that treat to be good enough to be worth the extra calories. I like to think that, based on looks alone, I can pick out a winning lemon square. I have to say that my success rate to date is not too bad. I look for about a 1:2 ratio of crust to lemon layer. The lemon layer must be brightly colored and have a little bit of wiggle to it—I don’t like the lemon layer to be too set and cakey. A winning square should also have just a modest sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Despite my love of lemon squares and my slightly embarrassing (OK—it’s a little strange, but it’s also quite fun!) fixation with picking out a good one, I have never made them at home from scratch. I’ve made boxed versions, which are okay in a pinch, but never a full out batch from fresh lemons. I guess I figured that if I found a good recipe it might be too dangerous to have them in the house.
In recent months I have seen a plethora of luscious lemon desserts out there in the blogosphere. Everything from lemon tarts to lemon puddings and of course lemon squares. When I found a good deal on Meyer lemons at the market, I finally gave in and decided to whip up a batch of lemon squares from scratch.
For my first attempt at homemade lemon squares, I knew I needed a recipe from someone reliable. Ina Garten has never let me down when it comes to desserts, so I decided to use her recipe for the squares.
I was quite pleased with the results. The squares had the perfect ratio of crust to lemon layer. The thick lemon layer was slightly gooey had an intense tangy and sweet flavor that melded perfectly with the crisp buttery crust. In addition, during the week or so that it took us to polish off the pan, the crust never got soggy and we never once choked on the powdered sugar. All in all, I was in heaven with these luscious lemon squares.
Meyer Lemon Squares
Adapted slightly from Ina Garten
Meyer lemons are thought to be a cross between a regular lemon and an orange, thus they are a little sweeter and not as acidic. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular lemons will definitely work for this recipe. I think I ended up using the zest from about 6 Meyer lemons and the juice from about 5. I didn’t mind having the zested lemon for another dish, but I made sure to use it quickly before it dried out.
For the crust:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 lb)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
- 6 eggs
- 2½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated Meyer lemon zest
- 1 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
- 1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350°.
Begin by making the crust for the lemon squares. Using the paddle attachment in a mixer cream together butter (make sure it is room temperature) and sugar. Once well incorporated, slowly add flour and salt and mix only until dough just comes together. Dump dough onto a lightly floured flat surface and press together into a ball. Spread dough evenly in a 9x13x2-inch greased pan. Bake the crust for 15-20 or until it is a very light brown.
In the mean time, mix together the eggs, sugar, Meyer lemon zest, Meyer lemon juice and flour. Once crust has finished baking and cooled slightly, pour lemon mixture over crust. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until filling is mostly set, but wiggles just slightly when nudged.
Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:
|Recipe Report Card||Notes About Recipe Ratings|
Four Chefs (Delicious!)
|As I mentioned above, these luscious lemon squares had the perfect ratio of crust to lemon layer and a wonderful tangy sweet lemon flavor.|
Three Easy Chairs (Average Difficulty)
|Zesting and juicing the lemons takes a little time, but the recipe is pretty straightforward. Not too much work for such good results.|
One Apples (This Might Take A Year Off Your Life)
|Though I did cut down the amount of sugar from the original recipe, there was still a lot of sugar in the filling. There was also enough butter in the crust to cause a girl to go up a dress size. These squares are best shared with a crowd.|
Four Leaves (Mother Earth Approved)
|All of the ingredients for this recipe were organic and the eggs were cage free and local.|