My husband and I have the silliest domestic spats. Recently, we got into an argument over whether or not I've ever made lemon squares. I assured Jim that I'd never made lemon squares before and I didn't have a recipe for them. Jim insisted that I'd made them and we'd both enjoyed them.
We managed to declare peace without victory, and the matter was (mostly) dropped.
I couldn't stop thinking about lemon squares, though. Summer makes me crave citrusy things, and lemon squares sounded like they would hit the spot. And I had a lead on a good recipe. My aunt, Kathy Sweet, had made some very delicious gluten-free lemon squares around Christmas time, and she brought me a copy of her recipe. The lemon squares turned out to be a hit with my Uncle Jim, so she'd made them multiple times since Christmas.
Lemon squares topped with raspberry jam are not only a delicious, citrusy dessert, they’re elegant enough for a bridal shower or any other summer party you might attend.
The premise of the lemon square is simple: You make a shortbread cookie and top it with a lemon custard. Easy peasy. So I set aside an hour on Sunday afternoon and made Aunt Kathy's lemon squares.
Like me, Aunt Kathy prefers to simplify gluten-free recipes. While the recipe calls for four different kinds of gluten-free flour, Aunt Kathy said that she just uses her all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.
I happened to have the almond meal the recipe requires, so I used 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour and 1/4 cup almond meal. Aunt Kathy assures me that the cookies come out just as well with one cup of gluten-free flour in place of all the individual flours. If you're not making these cookies for a gluten-intolerant crowd, you can probably substitute regular all-purpose flour and skip the xanthan gum.
As I was reading over the recipe to write this story, I realized that I left the confectioners' sugar out of the shortbread cookie. The cookie crust still tastes pretty good, but my mistake is a possible explanation for why it was a little more salty than I expected.
The recipe comes together quickly - the shortbread bakes while you mix up the lemon custard, then you pour the custard on top and finish baking the squares. I was worried that the custard was too thin, but my lemon squares came out just fine, so don't be alarmed if your custard seems runny.
You can dust the tops of the lemon squares with powdered sugar, or you can make a raspberry glaze by heating up some raspberry jam. Aunt Kathy makes hers with the raspberry glaze because Uncle Jim isn't a huge fan of powdered sugar. I also made mine with the raspberry glaze just because I like it. It also looks pretty, the ruby-red of the jam against the golden color of the cookie. Next time, though, I'm going to make them without the glaze because the raspberry flavor does overpower the lemon a bit.