Valentine’s Treat: Lemon Squares

Any holiday that gives me an excuse to eat 3 times as much dessert as normal is a good holiday to me. However, Valentine’s Day quickly gets too sugary, too pink, and too cliche, albeit delicious. Instead of overdoing the chocolate and frosting, I decided this year for a valentine’s day gift to my husband, I would make him one of his favorite sweet treats: lemon bars. These babies are part of the reason he fell in love with me, so they’re pretty powerful. When I’m in a pinch, I’ve been known to use the Betty Crocker or Krusteez box version (I prefer Betty’s of the two), and there are lots of lemon bar recipes out there, but this recipe from the 2004 Annual Martha Stewart Living Recipes cookbook is truly worth the extra time and effort – especially to say “I love you”.

What you need:

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1 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/3 cup whole almonds

1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks of butter, chilled


1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup sifted flour

What you do:

Follow the recipe in the book, making sure you’re noting the specifics in certain steps (i.e. the flour doesn’t all get used together, most is in the crust, and a little is in the filling). Buttering the pan is important if you want the squares to come out clean, and make sure you give the crust a little time to cool before pouring the filling on and baking again.

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Pro Tips:

  • You can use any kind of nut for the base you want. I stuck with almonds because I think they’re delicious, but I bet candied pecans would be heavenly.
  • This is a time consuming recipe. With all the prep and bake time, you’re looking at about 2 hours. I chose to multi-task and prep what was coming next while other things were in the oven or cooling, such as prepping lemon zest while the almonds were roasting, and prepping the filling while the crust was baking. You could also prep everything before and just add as you go. You’d still spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but theoretically you’d have more “down time”.
  • If you’re a chocolate + fruit lover, top your squares with chopped semisweet chocolate when they’re still a little warm, or heat some chocolate and drizzle over the top.
  • I store my lemon squares in the fridge (either use a lid or wrap the pan with tinfoil) – I like the filling to be firm rather than super gooey at room temperature.

Any Valentine’s Day treats you’re making that are out of the norm? Share with me!

Lydia Jane

In My Kitchen:

KitchenAid Artisan Mixer

Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2004 – (I bought mine used about 5 years ago)

Farberware 9 x 13 cake pan – they also are sold with lids

3 thoughts on “Valentine’s Treat: Lemon Squares

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