Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(only for the pucker loving) Lemon Squares

I can't take credit for this recipe, at all. I've tried dozens of lemon square recipes over the years and never loved any of them. The crust was either too soggy, or rock hard, and so often the lemon filling would be bland and get a crust over the top, neither of which is appealing. Then, I picked up the America's Test Kitchen Spring Entertaining magazine and there it was, the perfect lemon square recipe. At least for me.

Be warned, this baby is sour, but only the filling. The crust is light and sweet and just crispy enough, and that counters the tart lemon curd beautifuly.

These aren't Oliver approved though, even though I made them specifically for him. This is a child whose favorite snack at a restaurant is the raw lemon slices. Like, he eats them clean. I'm not sure what the deal is: were they too tart for him?  too sweet? Or was it just too close to bed time and he was already fussy? Yeah, I'm leaning toward that last one too.

Enough jabbering!

Creamy Lemon Squares

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes + 15 minutes
Makes: 9 generous squares

For the crust:
1¼ c all purpose flour
½ c icing sugar
12 tbsp cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
pinch of salt

For the lemon curd:
4 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 c white sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
⅔ c lemon juice (about 4 large lemons squeezed)
2 tbsp butter, cut into 2 pieces
2 tbsp heavy cream
icing sugar for dusting


1. Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 9" square baking pan with 2 strips of foil so that you have an overhang of a couple of inches on all four sides.

2. Start with the crust. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt a couple of times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 one second pulses). You want it to look powdery but hold it's shape when pressed together between your fingers. If it isn't, add 1 more tbsp of butter and pulse a few more times.

3. Press the crust mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until light golden brown (check it at 15 minutes to be safe).

4. While the crust is baking, start making the curd. Zest and juice your lemons. In a medium saucepan whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and salt. Add the zest and juice, then cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. This takes about 8 to 10 minutes. You want the curd thick enough that when you put a spoon in it and draw a line through the curd stuck to the back of the spoon, nothing bleeds into that line. THICK!

5. Pour the curd through a strainer into a medium bowl to get out the zest and any cooked bits of egg. Don't skip this step! Once you strain it you'll see why (and all kinds of junky stuff you couldn't see in the curd in the pan). Stir in the butter and heavy cream, then pour the strained curd over the hot crust and return to the oven for another 15 minutes, until set.

6. Let the pan cool for at least an hour on a cooling rack before removing the squares (via foil sling). Dust the top with icing sugar, and enjoy!

NOTE: These will last for up to 3 days in an air tight container in the fridge. That is, if no one know they're there, because for lemon lovers, they'll be gone in seconds!

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