Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday: Lemon Squares

Once upon a time, a man made me lemon squares. When a man makes you lemon squares—good lemon squares—there’s only one thing you can do. You marry him. So I did.

Today that man turned 40. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday “treat,” (that is, above and beyond the chocolate cake with vanilla frosting that our children insist he must have, and in the making of which they will take part) he said, “You can make lemon squares.” I think that lemon squares should probably be served at both of our funerals—they seem to play a major role in our relationship. The only down side is that at least one of us won’t be there to enjoy them.

So for probably the trillionth time in since we’ve been married, I dug out the spattered and smeared recipe card with the recipe from the Wellesley Cookie Exchange cookbook, given to Alex by his sister-in-law, Maureen (Hi, Maureen! Hope you’re having a nice executive retreat!) many years ago.

So spattered has the original become that some years ago Alex went back over her handwriting with ball point pen in an effort to save the legibility of the measurements. I feel I’d better post this recipe to preserve it. I wouldn’t want such a lifetime classic to be lost. Plus then you can make these too. And you'll be glad you did.

These lemon squares are, I must confess, almost tooth-achingly sweet, but sometimes that’s what you want. Also, they’re incredibly rich because of all the butter. As a result, you’re more than satisfied with a very small square. In fact, if you eat more than two or three small squares, you’re apt to feel slightly ill for the rest of the day, unless you perform some feat of physical fitness. However, in some ways, those are good things: you don’t eat too many because you don’t really want to feel ill, and after eating them you feel like you really ought to counter them by exercising. Portion control and exercise motivation in one flaky little lemony tidbit—what could be better?

So here, for posterity, is the recipe that won my heart, and has served us well on so many occasions throughout our married life. I am recording it exactly as written on the recipe card. Happy birthday, Alex!

From the Kitchen of: Maureen (Wellesley Cookie Exchange)
Recipe for: Lemon Squares

2 cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup melted butter
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup flour

Mix together 2 cups flour, powdered sugar, and melted butter. Spread into a 9 x 13” pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Mix eggs, sugar, lemon juice, baking powder, and ¼ cup flour and pour over baked shell. Bake at 350 degrees for an additional 25 minutes or until set. Dust with powdered sugar when cool. Cut into bars of desired size. Makes at least 36.

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