Tangy lemon cream cheese filling on a sweet crumble crust and with an oat & brown sugar textured crumble topping.
Please don’t tell me that summer’s almost over. Please, no one point to the calendar and remind me that we are now officially halfway through August and in some places kids have already re-started school.
Tell me sweet, sunshiny lies about daylight stretching out past 8PM forever, about the possibilities of still having enough time to maybe take a beach trip and to establish a healthy summertime workout routine, that I don’t need to worry about chapped hands and lips and finding my winter coat.
Let’s talk about cookouts and sweet summer produce, about fire-engine-colored tomatoes falling heavy off the vine and plodding to the still-green ground, burgers popping and sizzling over a charcoal grill, and naturally buttery-sweet Ambrosia corn, truly aptly named and eaten off the cob, the only added seasoning a shy sprinkle of salt.
If you won’t tell me these lies, these lemon squares just might.
I’m aware, as you probably are, that lemons aren’t even a summer harvest–they’re harvested in winter months. But they come to fruition in lands of eternal summers, states that never see snow days (which actually, is the only good part of wintertime if you ask me, besides Christmas). They are fruits that don’t know a true winter and can’t fathom frost, their happily-colored gem-like interiors shining sunnily, because to them winter as I know it doesn’t exist, and maybe that’s how they manage to be so eternally cheerful.
And they are cheerful little squares; their citrine centers are sharply tart and pleasantly sweet at the same time. Mostly tart, though: the soft and creamy filling is tempered only barely by condensed milk and cream cheese and is unabashed in its flavor.
The crumb crust and topping supply a wonderful texture and the majority of the sweetness. It’s a simple streusel-based crumb made of oats and brown sugar and butter, pressed into the bottom of a 9×9 pan and then sprinkled on top of the filling, sandwiching the lemon-y interior. It’s a treat more refreshing than lemonade on a hot summer day, a supposed-winter fruit-filling that embodies summertime like nothing else.
I’ll let these tangy-sweet lemon squares fill my head with lies and just hope to float blissfully unaware through the days to an eternal summer.
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 12 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
- 4 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9x9 square pan with aluminum foil (enough so that the foil hangs over the sides so that the bars can be easily lifted out of the pan and cut when finished)
- In large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, oats and salt until well-combined.
- Using a pastry cutter cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Press 2/3 of the crumble mixture into the bottom and partly up the sides of the prepared pan.
- Bake on 350F for 13 minutes, remove and allow to cool while the filling is prepared (do not turn off oven).
- In KitchenAid or with hand mixer beat cream cheese until creamed.
- Add condensed milk, and eggs, whisk well.
- Add in lemon juice and vanilla extract, whisk until mixture begins to thicken (about 2-3 minutes) and pour over the baked crumble base in 9x9 pan.
- Distribute remaining crumb mixture evenly over the top of the lemon filling.
- Bake on 350F for 15 minutes.
- After baking, allow bars to cool to room temperature before transferring to fridge and chilling 2-3 hours (if bars are difficult to cut after 2 hours, return to fridge and allow to cool 1 hour before checking again).
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