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Friday, June 7, 2013

Raspberry Lemon Squares








Here is a dessert with a buttery crust, a raspberry layer where sugar does not overwhelm the tang of the fruit, and a smooth lemony topping--a perfect ending to a light spring or summer dinner.

The addition of raspberries to the long favorite lemon bars makes these more than just a cookie. In fact, if you wanted to make them in a springform pan, the presentation could be especially dramatic.

The key here is to use frozen raspberries. Not jam, not preserves, not even fresh berries--you need the frozen kind, in order to be able to drain the juices from the fruit for a crisp crust and non-soggy lemon layer. I still have a few packages of berries from last year's backyard crop in the freezer, so this is a good way for me to make way for the berries I expect in the next few weeks.  Even if you don't have your own raspberry patch in the back yard, you can duplicate this with a package of frozen raspberries from the store.

Raspberry Lemon Dessert

Crust:
1/2 c butter
1/4 c ground pecans or almonds (if these are not available, use a total of 3/4 c butter)
1 c sugar
1 1/2 c flour

16 oz frozen raspberries (with NO sugar added), thawed and drained 

Filling:
6 eggs
Juice of 3 to 4 lemons, enough for 2/3 c juice
Zest of 2 to 3 lemons
1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Prepare the raspberries. Place the thawed berries in a colander over a bowl and press lightly with a wood spoon or spatula to extract most of the juices. (See below for an alternate method of extracting the juice.)

3.  Prepare the crust: Melt the butter in a 9 X 13 pan. Cut in the ground nuts, sugar and flour with a fork and then use your fingers to press the well-mixed dough evenly over the pan.









4. Spread the well-drained raspberries evenly over the crust and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.










5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Beat the eggs and sugar until thick and light colored. Fold in the lemon juice and zest and flour, stirring just until blended. Pour over the raspberries and crust and bake at 325 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (If the top begins to brown too soon, cover lightly with a piece of aluminum foil.)

6. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut in small squares after cooling. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.


Makes 36 to 42 squares, depending on the size serving you prefer.

NOTE: I have raspberries in my garden and freeze them in 8 to 12 oz bags. As an alternative method of extracting the juice, I thaw the berries and then, while still in the bag, allow the juice to flow into a bowl, squeezing the berries to be sure they are well-drained.  Just don't press so hard that you  squeeze out all the pulp and are left only with the seeds!





What to do with the Raspberry Juice?


I usually have as much as a cup of raspberry juice left from the squeezing. That is just too wonderful to throw away so here are a couple of uses for the juice:

Prepare a 12 oz can of frozen lemonade concentrate according to directions but stir in a half cup of raspberry juice and an extra cup of water.

Add some raspberry juice to your next slushy drink; this is especially good with an orange or apple juice and frozen banana combination and provides a brisk counterpoint to some of the other very sweet fruits.

Make a raspberry sauce for serving over a basic cake, ice cream, vanilla yoghurt,pancakes, or even rice pudding.

Raspberry Sauce

1/2 c raspberry juice
1/4 c water
1/4 to 1/3 c sugar--to taste
1 T cornstarch

Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a microwave-safe bowl. Because the sauce will bubble up when cooked, be sure the bowl is large enough. Stir in the water to make a thick paste and then gradually stir in the raspberry juice. When well blended, put in microwave on medium power for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once or twice, until it has bubbled up and become clear. Store in the refrigerator.

Variations: Add a half teaspoon of lemon juice or a quarter teaspoon of almond extract after removing from the microwave; stir in well.

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