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Strawberry Lemon Squares

lemonsquares

Potently tart and finishing sweetly on your tongue, that’s what a good lemonade is all about. Add in a little sweetness from fruit or berries, and you have a lovely compliment to the tanginess of lemon. Should you desire to jump, all feet in to delicious ecstasy, compliment the combination with shortbread. It’s an edible ode to summer, or in winter, a surefire way to awaken our sleepy tastebuds from the abundance of root vegetables and warm desserts. 

For the first time ever, I decided to make a white cake from scratch. To give it adequate lift and structure, it needed almost as many egg whites as an angel food cake. Leftover egg yolks were such a sorry sight in my eyes that it inspired me to embrace the bounty of citrus now coming into season and make a batch of lemon squares. I had forgotten just how much I adored the tang of lemon, sweet strawberries and buttery shortbread.

lemonsquares

Lemon squares are not something we think of often for our bake sales or sharing times, but there’s a great many mixes available. Not to mention it’s just as easy to make (when you have an abundance of egg yolks on hand of course). Can anyone tell me why this has become a forgotten delicacy on the dessert table?

In an effort to give my readership more of what they so desire- easy, and yet absurdly delicious recipes, I decided this would be the perfect foray for you all. Of course, should you want to take the extra care in making the shortbread crust and lemon curd filling from scratch, then Cook’s Illustrated has a rock solid and very yummy recipe

It’s simple, make your lemon bars however you so desire, boxed or from scratch. Once allowed to cool to room temperature, you blend equal parts of powdered sugar and freeze dried fruit (or herbs) together, and sift overtop. Cut and serve. Easy enough, right?

I know, the top secret, but very simple trick is freeze dried fruit (or even herbs), but how many of you practice this? Pulverized to a powder, absolutely potent flavor can impart itself onto anything, in this case lemon squares. It’s so easy, but I tell you what, it’s a trick chef’s are using and one we should be using a whole lot more at home! You get amazing flavor without anything artificial.

 Here’s a few combinations to try:

  • For the sophisticated palate, try strawberry and basil, raspberry and mint, or even peach and basil. 
  • For the winter holidays, try cranberries.
  • For simple classics try strawberry, peach or raspberry.
  • And for more atypical combinations, try ginger and peach, or pineapple, banana and mango.
  • You could even go ‘crazy’ and start with lime, grapefruit or orange squares and then really see where your creativity lies.

 

 

lemonsquares

It really all comes down to what you like though! And of course, here’s some additional tips just because:

  • Most lemon squares (the curd and shortbread) aren’t very sweet and rely on powdered sugar for just the right balance. If your bars are overly sweet, don’t use powdered sugar and simply use your freeze dried fruit/herb powder.
  • Using only freeze dried fruit will give you a more vibrant color contrast from the yellow lemon curd. This is especially true if you stick your lemon squares in the freezer for a short period of time or add the powdered fruit on before the squares have fully cooled. That excess moisture will bind to the fruit powder and activate full color vibrancy.
  • If you’re unsure as to what combinations you or your guests will enjoy, cut the squares and let everyone dust their own portions. You could even set out a little tasting table at a party with mini combinations to indulge in too.
  • Don’t be afraid to create extra fruit/sugar powder. You can use it atop of ice cream, whipped cream, cheesecake or even hot chocolate.

What combinations are you excited to try? Do you think you’ll take this freeze dried fruit tip to other creations of yours? If so, I want to hear all!

To full plates and eating your tarte out,

Kat

Written by Tarte Chic

Author Kat Nielsen (formerly Kat Wojtylak) is a creative type with an immense love for food. She maintains a day job handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences.

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