I have been thinking about this recipe for… well… since the last time I was on Ottawa Daytime. I was inspired to create this recipe all because of Erin (the producer). The last time I visited the studio she mentioned that she and her cousin are “bringing back the square” – having noticed that bars, scones, muffins, cupcakes, loaves… all of them seem to have a prominent spot in bakery and coffee-house displays. But whatever happened to the square????
Having explained the rules (you can be inspired by a recipe, but need to create your own / different toppings / bases, etc), I decided to try my hand at the lemon square – tart, sweet… a little gooey. YUM.
If I’m going to make something with lemon… obviously I have to use limoncello. But how would I put my twist on the base of the square? Easy – because when I think lemons, I think chocolate – dark chocolate. And when I think dark chocolate – I think almonds. That’s it – limoncello squares with dark chocolate almond shortbread. Perfect.
I absolutely heart this shortbread. Not overly sweet (yes… even with chocolate chips), and the perfect texture to hold the gooey, runny limoncello. That’s right! Unlike most lemon squares – the topping on these babies isn’t very thick – it’s nice and thin (I didn’t use condensed milk or heavy cream to thicken it) – almost a thick glaze. But don’t worry – the limoncello and lemon combo pack a punch. A delicious punch.
I was a little nervous with this appearance… since I had decided to bring along my handheld mixer (it was time to cream some butter and sugar together) – and I was concerned about how noisy it would be. Turns out – it was fine.
Click here… see… we look (and sound) like we were having fun… right?
I was able to chat with Derick and TL even with the mixer running… and it was GREAT! We laughed our way through some mixing and whisking… and in the end – they both got to sample the finished product (and both gave me great reviews – yay!).
The squares are easy to make (like… really easy to make… just don’t forget any ingredient like I did) – just remember that they need to set overnight in the fridge. So don’t make these the day you need them. And although I use a stand-mixer in my instructions – feel free to use your handheld mixer. You noticed that I was able to use mine on the show. It’ll work. :0)
limoncello lemon squares
chocolate chip almond shortbread base:
1 c. flour, sifted
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. silvered almonds
Pre heat your oven to 350 F. Take your 8 x 8 inch square pan and spray it with non-stick spray (you can also line it with parchment paper… allow for a little over-hang to make it easy to pull the finished product out). Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar in your stand mixer (at the stir speed). Add the vanilla extract.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Blend the dry ingredients into the butter mixture – always using the slow speed. Mix until the flour is just incorporated.
Stir in the chocolate chips and the almond slivers.
Dump the batter into your baking pan, and smooth it out evenly – I find it easier to lightly wet my fingers and pat down the batter with my hands.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes – you want the base to be golden on the sides and slightly golden on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack (don’t remove it from the pan – they need to go back into the oven).
Decrease the heat of your oven to 325 F.
While your base is cooling, prepare the topping.
zest of a lemon
juice of an entire lemon
2 tbsp (heaping) limoncello
1 c. sugar
In a large bowl, and with your whisk, mix together all your ingredients.
Once blended, pour over your shortbread cookie base and return the pan to the oven.
Allow to bake for 20 minutes (remember to decrease the temperature to 325 F), the edges will be golden brown and the topping will have set. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Once at room temperature, refrigerate overnight. Cut into squares the next day.
These squares also freeze really well… and should be kept cool until served.
Enjoy! A little taste of Italia to brighten your day ;0)