There are those that would call me a food snob. And while it’s true that I chop my own garlic and refuse to use margarine, I don’t think you can decide who’s a food snob until you’ve read Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte. With all her guinea hens, haricots verts, and crème fraiche, Hesser takes the food snob cake.
Not that I didn’t enjoy her book, which I did, or that it didn’t get me interested in some fancy schmancy ingredients. Meyer lemons in particular caught my eye, because lemons are already so good. There’s a better version? I need to check that out!
So I was very excited when I saw Meyer lemons at my awesome grocery store yesterday! Of course it was a totally inconvenient week to be buying random ingredients. Since we’re moving soon, the rest of my grocery list was geared toward emptying out our freezer and cabinets. But, I had seen Meyer lemons at my grocery store once before and passed up my chance to buy them, assuming that if they carried them once, they would again. So wrong.
But what to do with my prize. I wanted something to showcase the flavor of the lemons, so I could really get a feel for the difference between these and regular lemons. My copy of Cooking for Mr. Latte was already packed, but I dug it out anyway. Hesser recommends a (fancy schmancy) recipe for lemon squares using Meyer lemons, and I so love lemon squares. I’ve tried a good number of lemon square recipes and refined them to fit my own tastes, so in the end I used Hesser’s recipe only to adjust the sugar for the difference in sweetness between Meyer and regular lemons.
I haven’t made lemon squares in years, and after I made these, it didn’t take me long to remember why – it’s my total lack of self-control. Something about them just seems so light, and I forget there’s a stick of butter in only 16 squares.
And what about the much-hyped Meyer lemons? I’m a bit disappointed, to be honest. I reduced the sugar in the original recipe, but I still feel like the lemon flavor is too weak. I don’t notice any extra complexity. I haven’t given up on this ingredient yet though. I’m going to try a savory recipe later this week, and we’ll see from there.
And I still can’t resist these lemon squares.
(adapted from Betty Crocker’s Best of Baking)
makes 16 (one 8 by 8 inch pan)
If you’re using Meyer lemons, reduce the sugar in the filling to ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (4.375 ounces).
Update 12.18: I made these again (with regular lemons) soon afterwards. I think the flour in the crust should be increased to 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 3/8 ounces). With this amount, the crust has more structure but is still very tender. Also, I beat the filling on high with the whisk attachment for 3 minutes, and it certainly wasn’t light and fluffy. So just mix it until it’s mixed. One more thing: 1/2 cup lemon juice makes for a sour lemon square. If you’re not into that, you may want to cut that amount in half.
¾ cup (3¾ ounces) unbleached flour
½ cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar
zest from 1 lemon
½ cup lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
powdered sugar for dusting baked squares
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crust ingredients until dough comes together. (It shouldn’t be crumbly.) Press into ungreased 8 by 8-inch baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
Beat all filling ingredients until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. (You’re going to want to cover to bowl with a towel or something, because it’s very splattery.) Pour over baked crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until no indentation remains when touched in center. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into squares; serve.