Hands up if you ate lemons as a kid. And I don’t mean sucking the juice out of a lemon slice on a dare with your face all squinched up. Did you eat them like they were orange slices, chewing the pulp with a straight face so all that was left was a thin slice of rind? Because I used to any chance I got. Maybe it was a bit about proving myself – I took great pride in eating lemons with a straight face while everyone around me pucked up their lips – but I also just liked the sourness. Even without an audience I’d work my way through a dish of lemon slices meant to accompany some dish or drink, piling up the yellow rinds as I went. I was the kid who asked for a slice of lemon in my water just so I could ungracefully fish it out and eat it on the side.
A mix of restraint and embarrassment now keeps me from stealing extra lemon slices from a tray of condiments or sticking my fingers in a glass of water in a restaurant, although if no one’s around I might go after it with a spoon. But more often I take my lemon in a more socially acceptable form – lemon squares. And if you were wondering, “Aren’t there already two versions of lemon squares on this site?” let me reassure you, there are. This pink variation owes its color to a half pint of raspberries but it’s still mouth-puckeringly tart, just the way I like it. How many lemon square recipes is too many? Well, I think I can fit at least one more…
Raspberry Lemon Squares
Crust adapted from Dorie Greenspan‘s sable recipe
Makes about 18 2-inch squares
For the crust
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
For the filling
Juice and finely grated zest of 5 lemons (about ¾ cup and 3-4 tbs of zest)
¾ cup sugar
½ pint rasperries
½ tsp kosher salt
To Make the Crust:
BEAT the butter with the sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or using electric beaters on medium until the mixture is fluffy and lighter in color. Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat to combine. Then turn the speed to low and add in the flour slowly. Mix until just combined, scraping the sides if needed to incorporate everything.
WRAP the dough in plastic so that it forms a square and then put it in the fridge to firm up for a few hours. If you’re pressed for time you can also put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes so that it’s firm enough to work with. In the meantime, line a 9 by 13 pan with foil.
REMOVE the dough from the fridge/freezer and place the square of dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out until it’s at least big enough to fit the bottom of the 9 by 13 pan and about ¼ inch thick. Then peel back one piece of the parchment, place the dough in the lined pan, then peel back the other piece of parchment.* Use a fork to dock the dough so it doesn’t puff up too much while baking.
PREHEAT the oven to 350F and once its hot bake the dough for about 15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely to room temperature.
To Make the Filling:
COMBINE, in a blender or the bowl of a food processor, the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, eggs, raspberries, and salt. Blend or process for a few minutes on medium speed until smooth.
Putting It All Together
PREHEAT the oven to 375F.
POUR the filling into the pre-baked cookie crust and bake for 20-30 miutes or until the filling is set and doesn’t jiggle when you shake the pan gently. The longer you bake it the more solid the filling will be – pull it earlier if you like it to be more like pudding and let it bake a few more minutes if you prefer your lemon squares to have a baked custard texture. After removing them from the oven let the bars cool fully before slicing.
SLICE the squares into… squares to serve although if you’re transporting them it is generally easier to transport them in the pan rather than cutting them ahead of time since they’re too soft to stack nicely. Any leftovers will last for a week or so in the fridge.
* This dough is very soft and sticky which makes a nice soft cookie base, but it also means you can’t just pat it into the bottom of the pan. If you don’t let it chill before rolling you’re going to have a bad time.