I have always wondered why advertisers like to use the phrase “new and improved” especially when it is attached to an already popular item. Why mess with a product when it is considered to be wonderful from the very beginning? I thought about that when I decided to tweak my Lemon Squares recipe and created Lemon Squares 2. I won’t say my new recipe Lemon Squares 2 is a “new and improved” version of my original Lemon Squares recipe but it is “new” and it is good.
Like the original recipe Lemon Squares 2 are lemony but have an added layer of flavor because of the cream cheese filling. Yes, I added cream cheese to the mix to create a lemon cheesecake like texture. Good ahead and say it. Yummy! I also added chopped pecans to the crust to make sure there was a contrast of textures. After all, I did not want to have a one note recipe.
For those that are thinking about the calories, take heart in knowing I used low fat cream cheese to lower the calories a little. But, let’s be honest. This is dessert and it is a cheesecake like treat. So go easy on the number of Lemon Squares 2 you decide to eat at one sitting. Spread out the deliciousness and eat them every other day rather than every day. It will be hard but I am sure you can handle it. Of course, if you are like my youngest son, you can eat them everyday and not gain an once. But then again, he works out all the time and has that “young” metabolism I miss so much.
The next time you have a taste for lemons or cheesecake consider making a batch of my Lemon Squares 2. I think you will enjoy them.
Lemon Squares 2
2 ¼ cup all purpose flour
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup granola crumbled
¼ cup + 1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter cut into small cubes
8 oz cream cheese softened
1 ¾ cups sugar + ½ cup sugar
¾ cup lemon juice (use meyer lemons if available)
¼ cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
4 tbsp confectioner’s sugar for dusting
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
¼ tsp salt
4 large eggs (room temperature)
1 egg yolk (room temperature)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch glass dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Sift flour, salt and confectioner’s sugar into a large bowl. Add pecans, granola and butter. Working quickly, mix butter into flour until butter is broken down into tiny pieces about the size of a large pea (use a food processor if necessary). Press mixture into bottom of the glass dish pushing about one third of the crust up the sides of the dish. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes then bake for 10 – 15 minutes. Crust will be pale.
While crust is baking prepare the lemon filling by whisking together sugar, flour and salt. Add lemon juice, zest and vanilla extract. Stir until combined. Whisk in eggs and egg yolk. Set aside.
In medium bowl cream together cream cheese and ½ cup sugar. Add 1 egg and ½ tsp vanilla extract. Set aside.
When crust is done pour cream cheese mixture over warm crust and spread out evenly over the crust. Next pour lemon filling mixture over the cream cheese mixture. Bake for an additional 35 – 45 minutes. Center should still jiggle a little. Remove and let cool completely before cutting. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and cut into squares.