Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Posts Tagged ‘simple desserts’

Lemon Squares

Posted by fourclankitchen on November 13, 2011

Everyone has their favorite lemon bar recipe.  I dislike very eggy  lemon bars because their yolkiness  interferes with the combined brightness and delicacy of the lemon and butter.  This recipe (adapted barely, from Betty Crocker) is lovely and doesn’t involve the tedious beating of eggs or a cumbersome crust preparation.  It is fast, buttery, lemony and delicious. Its the perfect dessert for when you have a large number of guests. I have made only one change to the original recipe: I  doubled the amount of lemon juice the original recipe calls for.  If that is not your thing, you can go back down to the 2 tbs. the original recipe calls for.  One more thing:  this recipe is almost better with lime than with lemon, so use whatever you have.  I bet it would be great with Meyer lemons as well.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick (1/2) cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel, if desired
2-4 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4teaspoon salt
2 eggs
Extra powdered sugar for dusting.
  • 1. Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • 2.  Mix flour, butter and powdered sugar. Press into  ungreased 8×8 square pan, building up 1/2-inch edges.
  • 3. Bake the crust for 20 minutes.
  • 4. Beat granulated sugar, lemon juice, baking powder, salt and eggs with electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until light, pale yellow and fluffy. Add the lemon peel and mix briefly. Pour over hot crust.
  • 5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched lightly in center. Cool; dust with powdered sugar. Cut into about 1 1/2-inch squares.

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Pistachio Bars

Posted by fourclankitchen on October 15, 2011

I got Gina de Palma’s Dolce Italiana for Christmas two years ago.  These days I find recipes by surfing, so this book has been languishing on my bookshelf since it was given to me.  I now realize that relegating this book to the “maybe some day” category was a  mistake.  Gina de Palma is (was?) a pastry chef at Babbo, Mario Batali’s restaurant.  I love the simplicity  and homey-ness of Italian desserts and this book has them all.   And although not all of the recipes in this book are simple, these pistachio bars certainly are.  These bars are a  cross between a biscotti and blondie and are nutty and fragrant with lemon zest.  They are lovely dunked in coffee.


  •      2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  •      1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  •     1 cup shelled, whole, unsalted pistachios, Sicilian if available
  •     1 cup (2 sticks/8 ounces) unsalted butler, softened
  •     1 1/4 cups plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  •      2 large eggs
  •      1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     1  teaspoon pure almond extract
  •     zest of 1 lemon

1.    Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 13-by-18-inch jelly-roll pan with butter (The original recipe calls for lining the pan with parchment and then greasing the parchment  (I found this to be tedious when spreading the dough since the parchment kept misbehaving.  Next time I will leave it out).
2.    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and set aside. Place 1/2 cup pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and process for 20 to 30 seconds, until the nuts are finely ground. Stir the ground pistachios into the flour mixture.
3.    Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the 1 1/4 cups sugar until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, almond extract, and lemon zest, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
4.    On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Use an offset spatula to spread the dough evenly in the pan, smoothing the surface as much as possible. Since there is no baking soda or powder, the bars are not going to rise much, so you must spread the dough pretty evenly to ensure even cooking  (this is why the partchment is a pain).

5. Coarsely chop the remaining 1/2 cup pistachios in the food processor and sprinkle them evenly over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar evenly over the nuts.
5.    Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the dough is firm and just turning golden brown at the edges, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. Allow the pan to cool on a wire rack for  before cutting the cookies into rectangular bars.  The next time I make them, I will bake them for around 30-35 min to leave the bars a little more cakey and a little less biscotti-like, but this is a personal preference.

6.  Enjoy with coffee, a glass of milk or some almond ice cream.

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