Now for a trip down memory lane…
Some of my best childhood memories are the trips my entire family took to Debordieu and Litchfield beach in South Carolina for Easter weekend. We would all pack into cars and make the 4 hour road trip for the long weekend from Charlotte. The car ride was long and, let’s say, interesting, especially with my five siblings… never a dull moment! However, it was all worth it when we drove down the final stretch to the house, rolled down the windows and put on Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car and sang at the top of our lungs. We were so excited to be there. One of the first things we did was unpack all of the cars, including my grandmother’s. I detail this part specifically because my grandmother (we call her Lee-Lee) carried some very important items. She always packed 3 or 4 white tins full of freshly baked desserts, including pound cake, coffee cake, either cookies or brownies (sometimes both), and everyone’s favorite… lemon squares. If it were up to us these would be gone in a matter of minutes, however, Lee-Lee strategically placed them in the refrigerator so they were hard to get to. She wanted them to last the weekend… yeah right! We found them. They are absolutely delicious and at 95 years old Lee-Lee still makes them, and hopefully will this Easter too. Fingers crossed!
I will never be able to replicate the way she makes the squares so I wanted to put a twist on them. As you can see in the images below, I have her hand-written recipe on a notecard which gave me both direction and inspiration. What I do differently with these bars is I make them with a combination of three different citrus fruits: lemon, lime, and orange. There is a thin shortbread style bottom layer which is topped with a mixture of eggs, sugar and the zest and juice of the fruits. These are delicious in their own way and are best served cold with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Please make these this weekend – you are going to love them!!
- 2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 lime, zest removed of ½ lime and juice of whole lime
- 1 orange, zest removed of ¼ orange and juice of ½ orange
- 1 lemon, zest removed of ½ lemon and juice of whole lemon
- Powdered sugar, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a bowl using beaters or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt and mix just until combined. Use a rubber spatula to make sure everything is incorporated then pour the crust batter in to a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread batter evenly on the bottom of the pan. It will be very thin. Place in oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool slightly before adding the filling.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the white sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, juices of whole lime, ½ orange and whole lemon, and zest of ½ lime, ¼ orange and ½ lemon. The total amount of juice should be about ½ cup and the total amount of zest should equal about 2 teaspoons (but doesn't have to be perfect!).
- Use a whisk to mix the egg mixture into the sugar and flour mixture. You may need to switch to a rubber spatula to get all the sugar off the sides. Once combined, pour filling over the baked and slightly cooled crust. Place in oven and bake for about 22-25 minutes until the top and edges are slightly browned and the filling has set.
- Remove from oven and set on top of a wire rack to cool. Once cool enough, about 15 minutes, cut bars and carefully place them on the wire rack to cool completely. You can go big and make 12-14 large bars or you can cut them into really small bite-sized portions. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Place in an air tight container and refrigerate. They can be served warm and at room temperature but my preference is chilled.
This recipe can make 10-12 large bars or double the amount of small bars.