Have you ever found a recipe on the internet and really liked it and were so happy to have found such an easy and tasty recipe? And then a few months or even years later as you were leafing through one of your old and beloved cookbooks found the same recipe and realized you'd had it for years and years? Well, that's exactly how I found these Crunchy Lemon Squares. I stumbled across the recipe on some blog or another, made them, loved them and passed on the recipe to one of my sisters-in-law, who also loved them. And then a couple of years later I was looking through a little cookbook
published by the Borden company and there, much to my amazement, was the same recipe on the bottom of page 14. I'd had it in my possession at least 30 years! Who knew? Not me it seems. Well, I know where to find it now. Funny thing is when I saw the recipe I knew I'd read it many times. I guess it was the photo that accompanied the blog that really got my attention. I guess the old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" certainly played out in this instance.
I've made these Crunchy Lemon Squares many times and have even adapted the recipe into Blueberry Lemon Squares. But this is the first time I've made them with lime juice. I like lime flavoured desserts and drinks and I thought this would be a tasty variation on the recipe and I was right. Both lemon and lime juice work to thicken the condensed milk and the grated rind gives that additional punch of flavour. I make my own sweetened condensed milk and this works just like the canned stuff at the grocery store.
These Crunchy Lemon or Lime Squares are quite sweet and rich so a small piece goes a long way. They are best eaten within a day or two of making as the crust stays nice and crunchy. Everything softens up after that and, although they still taste good, the texture is not crunchy. The same thing happens when they are frozen. But as no one seems to mind so I do freeze them when needed.
I have modified the recipe slightly to include a little salt and the choice of pecans or walnuts. And of course now they are renamed to include "Lime" in the title.
Crunchy Lemon or Lime Squares
1 can sweetened condensed milk, (300 ml in Canada, 14 oz in the US)
½ cup lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon or lime rind
Pinch of salt
1 or 2 drops yellow (lemon) or green (lime) food colouring, optional
1 cup quick oats, uncooked
1 cup flour
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
In medium bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, lemon or lime juice, rind and salt. You may use 1 or 2 drops of food colouring for a deeper colour. Lay aside.
In a separate medium bowl, combine oats, flour, coconut, nuts, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter. Combine to form a crumbly, but not dry, mixture. Set aside.
Pat just over half of crumb mixture evenly on bottom of 9 x 9-inch baking pan. Spread sweetened condensed milk mixture on top and sprinkle with remaining crumbs.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool thoroughly before cutting.
Makes 9-36 servings. It just depends on how big or small you cut them. Store in refrigerator in a loosely covered container.
Mix the sweetened condensed milk, juice and rind and pinch of salt together. Lime mixture on the left, lemon on the right.
The mixture will become thick and smooth and almost cheese-like, reminiscent of a ricotta cheese mix.
Mix the melted butter with the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture is formed. Press just more than half into a 9x9-inch pan. Reserve remaining crumbs for the topping.
Spoon on the condensed milk mixture over the bottom crust. Top with reserved crumbs.
Pat the crumbs firmly onto the top and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cut into squares. The size is up to you. They can be cut in larger dessert squares or smaller finger size. Lemon Squares on top. Lime on the bottom.