Friday, May 25, 2018

Lemon-Coconut Treats with only half the title ingredients: Or, Lemon squares attempt no. 2

As aforementioned, we at A Book of Cookrye had tried and failed to make lemon squares using the recipe on the back of a bag of Harris-Teeter (seriously, say that out loud, carefully enunciating each syllable, and see if it doesn't make you feel at least slightly better if you're blue) powdered sugar. But, all was not lost! The goopy failed attempt at lemon squares was still hot when I lifted it right out of the pan (this is why you always use foil!) when I mentioned I might attempt another recipe right on the spot!

Lemon-Coconut Treats

    1½ c flour
    1½ c brown sugar
    ½ c butter or margarine
Heat oven to 275°. Grease a 9"x13" pan. We really recommend lining the pan, either with parchment on the bottom, or with foil on the bottom and sides.
Mix flour and sugar, then cream with the butter. Pat into pan, and bake 10 minutes. Increase oven heat to 350° when you remove the pan.

    2 eggs
    1 c packed brown sugar
    1½ c grated coconut
    1 c chopped nuts (if desired)
    ½ tsp baking powder
    ¼ tsp salt
    ½ tsp vanilla
Stir together the sugar, baking powder, salt, and flour, making sure there are no flour lumps. Mix in eggs, and beat thoroughly. Add everything else. Spread on top of the crust (you may find it easier to tilt the pan than to try to use a spoon without gouging the crust), and bake for 20 minutes at 350°.

    1 c powdered sugar
    1 tbsp melted butter or margarine
    Juice of 1 lemon
While the bars are baking, whisk together the icing ingredients. Spread over the bars while they are warm (it may be easier to just tilt the pan around until all is covered than to try to use a spatula or knife).

Source: Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts, 1968 (submitter: Mrs. Robert T Brown, Sr. of Brookville, MD- blue ribbon winner of Montgomery County Fair)

You may be wondering why I would turn around and launch into a second recipe before my first and failed attempt has even gone cold (then again, if you know me you'll instead be thoroughly unsurprised). I admit that I might not have were it not for one thing in this kitchen...

Indeed, there's a dishwasher right under the counter for anyone to use! I've previously sung the praises of the automatic dishwasher, but let me tell you it is so amazing to use. Imagine measuring out all the ingredients for the recipe you're making, putting each one tidily in its own little container to await further cooking, and not having a fricken mountain of dirty tubs and bowls in the sink! We at A Book of Cookrye firmly maintain that the belief that that hand-washing dishes is better than using a machine should be as outdated as the belief that we should hand-wash all our clothes. Even science says hand-washing dishes day in and day out is terrible.
Right. Um.... back to cookies!

So that's equal amounts butter and sugar in that bowl.  I didn't notice this until I actually got this far in the recipe, but there's a lot of brown sugar in it for a lemon recipe. I've never seen brown sugar and lemon go together at all (which may show how rarely I go out in public- I'd never heard of sandwich macaroons (macarons?) which led to this accidental piece of luck). Maybe lemons and brown sugar go together in a lot of recipes and I've just never bumped into one before.
It was exactly like Play-Doh, except it tasted good when you ate it.

I was really suspicious of that baking temperature. Lemon and brown sugar may be a little bit out there and weird to my undertravelled, too-broke-to-see-what-fancy-restaurants-sell self, but I'm willing to believe that it's pretty commonplace in a bunch of places I've never been. But baking in only a 275° oven? No one ever does that! I've only seen oven temperatures that low in two places: slow-cooking massive roasts, or warming up something you cooked last night. This left me in a dilemma: Do I bake the crust at a more normal temperature and risk ruining it because I cooked it 100° hotter than the recipe should have? Or should I cook it at the bizarrely low temperature the recipe told me to, and risk serving raw lemon squares because it was a misprint and should have been 375°? We decided to stick to exactly what's on the page solely because that meant we could blame someone else for whatever happened.

For the record, this is a really thin crust layer. We at A Book of Cookrye advise that you resist excessive eating of cookie dough until you are very sure you have enough to actually cover the pan. While it went into the oven to bake (or more likely, barely warm up just a little), we went to the filling.

At this point, one of my friends came over, looked at the recipe, and said "I don't like coconut." Which explains why the title ingredient isn't in this. I was really excited at this new (well, new to me) variation on lemon bars. It has brown sugar! And coconut! Who does that? (Besides Mrs. Robert T Brown, Senior, of course.) Unfortunately, I had not actually made sure other people would like it too.
I've had so many recipes leave me with those annoying little flour clumps that refuse to break down, that nowadays I refuse to give them a chance to form. Looks like a brown sugar sandcastle, doesn't it?

Incredibly, the crust was actually kind of baked-looking when I removed it from the oven. I'd expected to remove the pan and find it contained really hot but still completely raw dough. It was just baked enough that you could get the filling on it without the two layers mixing. It occurred to me as I put this back in the oven for the second and last time that no one's mixing lemon and brown sugar (which I'd been really excited about) in this recipe. You don't get to the lemon in this recipe until you make the icing to dump on top.

Does anyone else think this looks oddly like the breakfast things in a supermarket bakery? Something about seeing the dark brown baked thing swimming under all those gobs of white icing makes me think of the cinnamon rolls and danishes that are always stale by the time I see them late in the day.
Imagine that the middle layer has coconut in it.

So, basically, the middle filling part is magically gooey, and somehow just set enough not to drip off the cookie crust. It tastes like pecan pie filling if you forgot to add the pecans. The crust, contrary to my fears, is indeed fully baked. It's crispy enough to hold the rest of this up without being too hardened to cut. It also tastes good on its own, Oddly enough, the lemon icing on top goes absolutely beautifully with it. I didn't expect that it would. Now, I personally think it would have been better with the coconut in it (it's in the recipe name, after all!), but these are delicious either way.

No comments:

Post a Comment