Easy Lemon Squares

Lemon squares seem to be the “every occasion” bar.  They’re fancy enough to grace the table of a wedding, bridal/baby shower, etc., yet simple enough to be served in as casual a setting as an outdoor summer barbecue.  They’re easy to transport, easy to make in large batches, and are well-liked by most people.  Unlike your everyday, shortbread-crusted lemon bar, this recipe takes a little shortcut with a sugar-cookie crust.  There’s a time and a place for classic lemon squares, but sometimes you need fast, you need easy, and you need delicious.  Without a doubt, these lemon squares will cater to any such occasion!

Because these bars have a sugar cookie crust, the crust is very sweet, so I included a teaspoon of lemon zest to offset the sweetness a little.  The original recipe only used 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in the filling, which I thought made the bars too sweet and not lemony enough.  I increased the lemon juice to 1/2 cup, added an additional 2 Tbs of flour to account for the extra liquid, and decreased the sugar to 1 1/4 cups.  These changes are reflected below, and the result was a lemon square with the perfect balance of sweet and tart–at least, in my opinion! 🙂

Easy Lemon Squares

Crust:

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 tsp lemon zest

Filling:

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 1/4 cups white sugar

6 Tbs all-purpose flour

1 Tbs lemon zest

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 large lemons)

Topping:

2 Tbs powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan.

Empty cookie mix into a large bowl.  Add in 1 tsp lemon zest and use your hands to mix it in.  Cut in softened butter until crumbly using 2 forks or a pastry blender if you have it.  Press mixture into prepared pan, making sure it is tightly packed and slightly raised along the edges.  Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly golden.  Cool for 10 minutes.

While crust is cooling, stir together all filling ingredients except lemon juice in the same large bowl.  Stir in lemon juice; mix well.  Pour mixture over the warm crust.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is light golden brown and doesn’t jiggle.  Cool for at least an hour before sprinkling with powdered sugar and cutting into squares.

Yield: 24 bars

(Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker)

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