29 April 2009

Lemon Squares

After I got married my mom gave me a Better Homes and Gardens cookie cookbook. On the inside she inscribed, "have fun baking--be sure to clean up the flour!" I did a lot of baking as a kid/teenager and maybe, once, I got one tiny speck of flour on the counter top. But it was a tiny amount and just that once, right Mom? ;)

I love this cookbook. The first half is "All Day Treats" and then you flip it over and the other half of the book is "Christmastime Treats." This cookbook is well-used, spotty with recipe remains (and just a touch of flour), and marked up with alternate measurements and ingredients. The Lemon Bars recipe is the best I have ever tried.

Just look at that gooey lemon deliciousness! Makes your mouth water, doesn't it?

1/3 cup butter, softened (Smart Balance sticks)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
4 tablespoons lemon juice (use lemons, not the bottled juice stuff)
1/4 tsp baking powder
powdered sugar for dusting

For the crust, cream butter and sugar in mixer and add 1 cup of flour. Beat until mixture resembles crumbs. Just like a pie crust.

Press this mixture into an ungreased (because of all the butter) 8x8 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. You aren't looking for golden brown, so don't overbake.

That's the before baking photo. I forget to take the after, but it looks like that only puffy.

While the crust is baking, beat the eggs in the same mixer bowl until they are foamy.

Now add the 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 T of flour, lemon juice (I have started using real lemon juice-not from the bottle-and it makes the squares soooo much better), and baking powder. (If you are using unsalted butter you might want to add just a pinch of salt.) Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon zest and pour mixture over the partially baked, still hot crust.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and the center is set. Be careful putting it into the oven...I slung it around a bit and had the lemon mixture slosh up the sides of the pan. So...it looks a lot browner around the edges than it should. :)

Cool in pan on a wire rack, dust with powdered sugar, and cut into squares. What? You have a crappy wire rack that sits directly on the counter and allows no airflow thereby defeating the purpose of the wire rack? I have a solution for you! A word of caution...kids find this hilarious. Don't know why.

Now, as Tinker Bell likes to say, time to feast!

That is not a fair representation of how many squares this recipe makes. Most of them never made it to the plate. The recipe claims it makes 20, but I have never counted. I've found it best not to count how many baked good I eat.

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