Mix Up Some Sunshine
It has been a very long winter. We've had more snow than normal here in Pittsburgh and numerous "Artic blasts" which caused the mercury to fall well below zero even before the wind chill is applied. We are now almost halfway through March and while the temperatures have moderated, there is still plenty of snow on the ground. And, of course, there's the cloudy skies.
So I am offering you a way to brighten up your day or the day of someone else even if the weather is cloudy, rainy, snowy or otherwise dreary. Mix up a little sunshine by baking up some lemon treats!
Lemon is one of my favorite flavors. A lemon's bright yellow color and fresh tart aroma just lift the corners of my mouth and make me smile. Lemon tart is the first thing I look for on the dessert menu when we go out to eat. Without a doubt, the best lemon tart I EVER tasted was on the menu at Laforet, Pittsburgh's best French restaurant. The pastry shell was divine and the lemon curd filling was creamy and perfectly balanced between tart and sweet. Sadly, Laforet closed a number of years ago. I have been trying to replicate that lemon tart ever since but haven't been able to -- yet. I'll keep trying.
Anyway, I have many, many lemon recipes in my repertoire and still more waiting to be tried. Lemon cupcakes, lemon crinkle cookies, lemon almond quick bread, the list goes on and on. Today, I am going to share a few of my favorite lemon treats with you.
One of my go-to lemon recipes is Lemon Squares. This is a family recipe that was always on the table for holidays, graduations and special events. Although they look quite fancy, lemon squares are easy to make. A buttery shortbread crust is partially baked and then topped with a sweet-tart lemon curd filling and baked again until the filling is set. After the baked squares cool, a lemony buttercream frosting is spread on to complete the dessert. When I serve lemon squares, there are never any leftovers, a sure sign that the recipe is good.
A recent addition to my lemon file is the recipe for Lemon Snowball Cookies that I found on King Arthur Flour's web site. These delightful little cookies are a bright pop of lemon in your mouth with lemon oil in the cookie and lemon juice powder in the confectioner's sugar coating. As noted by King Arthur Flour on the recipe, these cookies are a variation on the traditional Mexican Wedding cookie.
Lemon Almond Biscotti is another wonderful lemon recipe from King Arthur Flour. Lemon and almond come together in a delicious, buttery biscotti. With both lemon juice and lemon zest, these biscotti pack quite a punch. However, I amp up the lemon flavor by adding in some candied lemon peel. These luscious little nuggets (available through King Arthur Flour) give a nice burst of lemon to the finished cookie.
Wanna take this recipe over the top? In addition to the candied lemon peel, I also add in some dried blueberries. Lemon and blueberry is a classic combination and they come together beautifully in these biscotti. When I can find them, I use dried wild Maine blueberries. Wild Maine blueberries are smaller than other blueberries and have an intense blueberry flavor.
Here's the finished product - Lemon Almond Biscotti with Wild Maine Blueberries. Ready to be dunked in a cup of tea or glass of milk or simply eaten as is.
I hope I have inspired you to mix up a little sunshine! It might be cloudy outside, but with a lemon treat to eat, inside the sun is shining brilliantly!