Today’s recipe is not in any way my own, but that’s necessary because this week is my Daddy’s birthday! This is one of his favorite desserts (and, sometimes, the only dessert we think he’s really all that fond of). It’s from the Peanuts Cook Book, published all the way back in…1969! I have never seen this cookbook, but it apparently exists around my grandparents’ house. What I have, though, is even more awesome than that cookbook: the recipe scrawled on an old notepad by one of my parents, stained and slightly crinkled through the ages. I think this is Mother’s handwriting, but it looks quite a bit like Dad’s as well, so I’m really not sure who decided that this was necessary for their relationship to continue…but someone did and IT LIVES ON. Here’s that beauty, by the way:
Who’s Diamond Crystal Salt Company, you ask? I’m not sure either. Also, yes, this is a photocopy. I don’t have the EXACT notepad page. That is still safely in the parentals’ kitchen.
These lemon squares are the greatest because they are a dense shortbread crust topped with what’s almost like an instant lemon curd. The lemon curd forms its own little sugar “crust” over the top, getting ever-so-slightly toasted (it sounds weird, but trust me) as it bakes. As you’re trying to cut them you’ll notice that the outer edges have a great affinity for the sides of the pan…seemingly chemically bonded together. Do NOT give up that fight–those crispy, caramelized edges are the best part. People fight over those things (I mean, what? Noooo).
Look at the glory packed into that corner of the pan. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Lucy’s Lemon Squares
Adapted from the Peanuts Cook Book
1 c. All-Purpose Flour
1/4 c. Powdered Sugar (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 c. Butter, softened
1 c. Granulated Sugar
1/2 t. Baking Powder
2 1/2 T. Lemon Juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, combine the flour and powdered sugar, mixing to evenly distribute each within the other. Squish the butter into the flour mixture (I used my fingers) until it resembles a cookie dough. This may take some time.
Once combined, smooth the dough into a 9×9 inch ungreased square baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is a lovely golden-brown color.
While the crust is baking, combine the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, whisking well to incorporate everything.
After the crust is baked, remove from oven and pour filling on top. If filling has been sitting for a few minutes, re-stir it as the sugar will have begun to separate from the foam formed by the lemon juice and baking powder reacting.
Bake another 20-25 minutes until the center is set. If at 20 minutes the top is too browned but the inside is still very much liquid (as has happened to me multiple times), place foil over the top and lower oven to 300 degrees for the last five minutes.
Let cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and cutting.