There are many things I love about having guests over to have dinner. One thing is that I usually make a dessert to share. I am not sure if I can limit myself to a favorite flavor for dessert but along with chocolate, almond and apple- I love lemon! It is an especially refreshing and crisp finish to a heavy dinner.
I have a handful of dessert recipes that I have been enjoying for years and this is one of them. Around 30 years ago, I was getting ready to throw away an empty bag of flour. I think it was Gold Medal. Anyway, I saw a recipe on the back for Lemon Squares and thought they sounded good so I cut the recipe out. Over the years, I have modified the recipe slightly and I have been making it every since! I have added more Lemon zest and juice as well as a bit of lemon extract to make this a little more tart. I like my lemon squares to have a nice tartness offset by the sugar. I tried making these once with Meyers lemons, which was a mistake since they are much milder and there was very little "bite." I sometimes want to use a 1/4 cup of juice in the filling and sometimes I like to add a half cup. As you see in the recipe, if you use a half cup, add a bit of flour to the filling mix so it will have a good texture.
I hope you and your guests enjoy these tart, tasty treats after your next dinner!
2 cup flour
½ cup powdered sugar
2 sticks (1 cup)butter, softened
Optional- 2-3 teaspoons lemon zest 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts,
1 2/3 -2 cups sugar (depending on how tart you want)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1- ½ Tablespoon lemon zest (add more if you wish)
¼ to ½ cup lemon juice ( If you use ½ cup you will need to add 1-2 Tablespoons flour)
1 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
Topping: powdered sugar
This recipe will use a total of two or maybe three whole lemons. First, wash the lemons well and dry them off. Then remove the zest by using a zester or fine or micro-plane grater. The zest is the yellow outer part of the skin. Do not use the white layer. If the pieces of zest or not very fine, use a large knife to finally mince the zest strips into tiny bits. Next, remove all the juice from the lemon and pour into measuring cup. Now you are ready to decide how much you will use. If you there is any left over, you may combine juice and lemon and freeze or refrigerate until needed.
Sift flour and powdered sugar together. Cut in butter until well blended. If desired, add nuts and/or zest. Press mixture over bottom of a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan with a bit up the sides. It will look a bit dry and powdery. Bake about 20 minutes at 350° until lightly browned.
Combine sugar and eggs and beat until foaming, fluffy and yellow. Add remaining ingredients and beat . Pour and spread on top of the hot baked crust. Bake at 350 for 23 to 28 minutes until golden edged and set so that no indentation remains when touched. Remove and let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. When cool cut into small squares. If there are any left, store in air-tight container.