Friday, May 14th, 2010

Half Baked: Lemon Squares

Lemon, squareA confession: I don't particularly revere the lemon square. I actually don't think I'd ever even tried one until I made a batch out of curiosity after accidentally turning "lemon squares" into an Internet in-joke. I guess somewhere along the way I got the impression that the lemon square was seen as a childhood delicacy bestowed upon apple-cheeked ten-year olds who loved their stay-at-home moms, which was why I chose it as the quote-unquote peace offering during an era of terrible conflict.

I'm pretty sure I needn't tell you that I was not an apple-cheeked ten-year-old. But it's okay, because I'm pretty sure most of you weren't either. And that's why you're my people.

I've grown to love the lemon square-and here I'll proffer another confession-because I get high off the praise and adoration I get when I show up with a batch of them. Maybe that's a really sad thing to admit? If it is I feel certain you'll let me know. [Yes. Yes it is. --Ed.]

I also actually enjoy the process of making them as well, because GOD THEY ARE SO EASY. A food processor and a bowl, and like, six ingredients, that's pretty much all you need. Let's do it.

Haul your food processor down from the top shelf. Glare it at, knowing that you're going to have to wash its lid by hand, which is just so awkward and you never really feel like you're getting it properly clean, because you live in a lillypad of an apartment with no dishwasher and maybe you should have made different choices so you could be married like all your friends, living in the suburbs with oversized, stainless steel appliances and expansive granite countertops on which to set out all the ingredients you'll need for these baking jags you go on and a farmhouse kitchen table from Pottery Barn where you can sit reading the new Barbara Kingsolver while the base for the lemon squares cools, occasionally sipping from a glass of wine. Then remember that you hate the suburbs and Pottery Barn furniture, find the level of commitment marriage requires ill-suited to your need for independence, and haven't read Barbara Kingsolver since high school. Wine is still good, though! Pour yourself a glass, throw a few ice cubes in it, and thank God that you live in New York with your weird collection of friends and a 24-hour deli at the end of your block for those emergency rolling paper runs at 1 a.m. Steady yourself.

Measure 2 cups of flour and a half cup of confectioners' sugar (we all remember what kind that is, right class? Well done! Gold stars for everyone!) into the bowl of your processor. Cut two sticks of butter into small pieces and add them to the flour and sugar. Put on the lid that caused you so much angst and lock it in place. Pulse pulse pulse (isn't pulsing just the greatest?! Gives me such a thrill!) until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, which is one of those terms you always hear in baking and are just like, "Who what now? When in my life have I ever been in contact with a ‘coarse meal' to know what such a thing looks like?" But then somehow you actually always end up knowing exactly what coarse meal should look like, and knowing is half the battle, and maybe it's not a bad idea to have a little more wine.

Turn the mixture out into a 9"x13" pan or really whatever similarly sized baking pan you have around the house because when do you ever have the right sized pan and if you do have the right sized pan I don't want to hear about it. I hope you appreciate your granite countertops and stainless steel appliances! How was the new Barbara Kingsolver?

Press the mixture into the pan so that the surface is even and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. The crust should be set and a very light golden color.

While the crust is baking, turn your attention to the filling. I know, you've been sitting here mouthing to one another, "Where's the lemon? Do you think she got so wound up about Barbara Kingsolver that she forgot the lemon?"

I did not forget the lemon.

You'll need a large bowl, into which you'll put 4 eggs, 2 cups of sugar and a third of a cup of lemon juice (which should be about 1 lemon, but grab two when you're at the grocery store just to be on the safe side. If you don't use it for the dessert peel some of the rind and put a twist in your wine-with-ice! [Sure! You have already ruined the wine by putting ice in it, what difference will a twist make? --Ed.]) and beat them all together. With what shall you beat them, dear Liza? I mean, anything really: A handheld mixer, a whisk, that set of antlers from Urban Outfitters you've got hanging on your wall… it's wide open! Once the eggs are beaten and the sugar thoroughly incorporated, stir in ¼ of a cup of flour and a half teaspoon of baking powder.

Now, you're going to hate me for this next part because you're Internet people and therefore are impatient and ADD and hopefully half drunk and here I am about to tell you that you need to WAIT. But yes, you need to let the crust cool COMPLETELY before you pour in the filling. Remember when I confessed that sometimes I stick melted butter in the fridge to cool even thought among proper bakers it's probably anathema to do so? (You do!?! Gold stars for everyone!) Well right. I'm an impatient and ADD Internet person too! Who is definitely half drunk! So go on and stick that crust in the fridge to cool off, and when it's ready pour the filling over the top. Back into the 350° oven for 25 minutes or until set.

Allow to cool completely (I know, sorry) before cutting into bars. You can -and should, because hi? What's a lemon square without powdered sugar on top???-dust the squares with confectioners' sugar before serving to the teeming masses of hungry admirers and basking in the adoration of people who, for just one fleeting moment, will make you feel like you're the best thing to ever happen to them.

Jolie Kerr invites you to the very first Commenter's Bawl at The Scratcher on 17 June at 7 PM. There will absolutely be lemon squares.

153 Comments / Post A Comment

Moff (#28)

Yeah, Joles — it's the praise you're high off.

Moff (#28)

(I am scheduled to get crazy praised tomorrow night.)

jolie (#16)


@jolie: It's delicious.

sigerson (#179)

it's been AGES since I was praised.

I do not know how to cook but I like this because Jolie wrote it. Pulse pulse pulse.

deepomega (#1,720)

Ew. Keep that to yourself.

I didn't mean it like that. I just like the things she writes. Fuck.

Dave Bry (#422)

I also like the things she writes.

jolie (#16)

Aww, I knew how you meant it! And thank you, that's really so nice to hear – you too Dave and back atcha. I hope we'll see you at The Scratcher.

HiredGoons (#603)

Dave, if you come I WILL BRING CRACKERS.

deepomega (#1,720)

(I like the things you write too Jolie! I just also like jokes about jizz!)

brad (#1,678)

aaaa. i had not made that connection. the pulse thing. i am retroactively grossed, but only momentarily as clarification emerged. such a rollercoaster, this.

brent_cox (#40)

Burying the lede.

Matt (#26)

Hal Gill will be there.

brent_cox (#40)

I hope he's not working the door.

Olivia2.0 (#1,716)

Burying the lemon?

Matt (#26)

Cat is working the door. With HIS EYES.

Blackcapricorn (#4,791)

June 17th, be there or be lemon square.

jolie (#16)


DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I am actually kind of considering making the trip! I wanted to have a summer vacation anyway, and NYC would be a fun place to OH GOD I'M SORRY I DIDN'T KNOW NOT TO LEAVE MY WATER BOTTLE ON THE SIDEWALK PLEASE LET ME GO I WON'T DO IT AGAIN PROMISE

garge (#736)

Thank God this will be taking place in the Spring, because the SUMMER REALLY STRESSES ME OUT.

Blackcapricorn (#4,791)


deepomega (#1,720)

Where lemons at? Where the fuck they at, String?

deepomega (#1,720)

(I will keep making a goddamn "Where Wallace at" joke until someone (who isn't me) responds to it. Sorry, TheAwl!)

Art Yucko (#1,321)


deepomega (#1,720)


Olivia2.0 (#1,716)




@deepomega LOOK AT ME TOO!

petejayhawk (#1,249)

For me, every day is a commenter's bawl in Chicago.

deepomega (#1,720)

Yeah can we get a west coast feed going in LA?

Art Yucko (#1,321)

So you got your Lemon Squares, Right?

That's good. Lemon Squares. That's like a 40 degree day. Aint nobody got nuthin to say bout a 40 degree day. 50? Bring a smile to your face. 60? Hahaha. Sheeit, Commenters is damn near barbequ'in onnat motherfucker. But 40? Nobody give a FUCK ABOUT 40. AN YALL COMMENTERS IS GIVIN ME WAY TOO MANY 40 DEGREE DAYS, WHATDAFUCK.

deepomega (#1,720)

Speaking of… traveling? Anybody in Bawlston have any recommendations for where to get drunk on a saturday night? I'm in town for one day and the only person I know in Boston is visiting my own town.

garge (#736)

Do you want cocktails or beer? Cheapside or fancier? Boston proper or Cambridge?

deepomega (#1,720)

Staying in a hotel near Logan. I usually do whiskey-centric cocktails of any price.

garge (#736)

Hmm, Logan is a bit of a loop-thrower in the sense that there isn't much near it, but at the same time isn't, because at that point everything is just as far away.

If you want to do public transport, you can take the silverline from the airport to a short walk to Drink, which is a great bar (albeit somewhat 'contemporary,' if that annoys you). My favorite cocktail in the city comes from Eastern Standard (near Fenway), and Marliave is good (near the common), and both of these have a classic cocktail vibe. All of these are the same caliber, dress- and price-wise, and all get pretty crowded on Saturdays if you are a misanthrope who prefers to drink in the quiet afternoons like me.

Miles Klee (#3,657)

i ain't strapped. i ain't involved, yo. i ain't involved in none of that gangsta bullshit.

cinetrix (#47)

Orrrrrr, have your airport hotel concierge get you a cab to Santarpio's, in East Boston, where they will laugh at you if you ask for water. Order pizza and some skewered meat, get blitzed on the cheap hooch, and make sure you've programmed that cabbie's number into your phone for when you're ready to go back to your hotel and have a Maker's rocks [or neat, I don't judge.] before bed.

mrschem (#1,757)

Adjourn yo asses!

mrschem (#1,757)


mrschem (#1,757)

That was a reply to cinetrix's excellent recommendation!

Art Yucko (#1,321)

All aboard the Good Thread Lollipop

deepomega (#1,720)

PS I assume your avatar is a picture of Salvador Dalegg.


Art Yucko (#1,321)

Art Yucko [#1321] Your comment is awaiting moderation.

ohgod. machines. helpme

deepomega (#1,720)

Too many links on the dance floor, Mr. Yucko. I hope you learned a lesson.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

mm. spamfilters, naturally. m'bad. sheepishly returning to internet kindergarten

RocketSurgeon (#1,632)

Jolie, you've saved my lack of baking skills again. This is just in time for the arrival of our next houseguests. I am amending my Fresh Direct order to include more lemons right now.

jolie (#16)


Mindpowered (#948)

"Jolie Kerr invites you to the very first Commenter's Bawl at The Scratcher on 17 June at 7 PM. There will absolutely be lemon squares."

ws yo;wIT[47368080[SKUDFY UYG aahjkaagkjhdajkfgbdfgjkldafgkl j9OPAE5 SR67 GB N VGJ RY!@!!!!1111!!!!1111!

Am I happy to see this or did a volcano just erupt.

Trans-European flights were instantly grounded as soon as I read that sentence.

Baboleen (#1,430)

I enjoy reading about cooking/baking far more than actually doing it. Although I live in MA., I would love to attend the broohaha, but if I can't, will someone PLEASE give a lengthy synopsis of the evening? PLEASE PLEASE

Annie K. (#3,563)

In fact, could someone kindly accept the assignment, take notes, and report back in detail? We'd so love that.

You might need to remain moderately sober, but offsetting that would be the sweet feeling of being an observer.

Someone needs to live blog it.

sox (#652)


Bittersweet (#765)

Yes, please, live blog. Because I live in MA too and I can't get to NYC on the 17th. *sob*

garge (#736)

But, BITTERSWEET?! Can't you reschedule?!

Um… Last?

sunnyciegos (#551)

Bah! A Thursday! We DC residents will mope at the Big Hunt, thank you.

jolie (#16)

There's no helping the Thursday thing, but I'm upset that you all feel left out. So! I would like to suggest that the Boston/DC/Chicago/Whereeverelse folks pick a local watering hole and meet up on the same night. It'll be like Hands Across America for drunken narcissists!

deepomega (#1,720)

Drunken narcissists who know their way around a motherfucking metaphor!

Commenter's Bawls Across America!!!

Grant G Brown (#3,366)

Bah, fuck. I'm in Toronto. Second-class again.

HiredGoons (#603)

Maybe we can skype!?

Maybe not.

I want to skype! I will be on the wrong side of the atlantic odean, moping at having missed this by 2 days, since I'd already decided to follow HG's example and arrive drunk so I wouldn't be that shy girl who stands around and doesn't talk to anyone.


Bah! I'm the arrive-late-and-drunk girl!
(See, Goons? You & Joles aren't the only ones separated at birth.)

HiredGoons (#603)

I was about to make the correction myself.

HiredGoons (#603)

Also, I do believe we have the three sluttiest avatars in the room.

Oh, and *call me!

katiechasm (#163)


Urgh – so I got my hot guys mixed up. Sue me. At this point you're both still imaginary acquaintances, and since I can't make June 17th I can't offer to buy you both large drinks by way of an apology. But I am still sulking. And now typing drunk.

carpetblogger (#306)

I'll be the drunk girl alone in Istanbul, and not just on the 17th.


We all already know what you look like, C-Ro!

You, on the other hand, don't look *anything* like your icon!

@Mantooth: NOT FOR ME!

I enjoy the mystery.
(And his furry top hats!)

Mar (#2,357)

I'm tempted to feel ashamed for liking granite counter tops and old wooden farmhouse tables (not the ones from Pottery Barn though; the real ones you buy from antique malls) and Barbara Kingsolver, but these things are all objectively awesome, so I cannot. "The Poisonwood Bible" was just a great read–a modern "The Mosquito Coast."
On the other hand, I spent at least half an hour talking about zoning yesterday (okay, more like an hour), so I'm probably yuppie scum.

thatsrealbutter (#2,095)

65% of my baking motivation comes from inevitable praise. Even if what you bake isn't amazing, people will lie to you and say it is because of your EFFORT.

hman (#53)

Lemon squares and commenters at the Scratcher? It'll be like 2008 all over again!

Ha! I just posted the same thing before I saw this. Great minds, etc.

sargasm (#104)

Damn you for getting that song stuck in my head.

"Jolie Kerr invites you to the very first Commenter's Bawl at The Scratcher on 17 June at 7 PM. There will absolutely be lemon squares."


It'll be like 2008 all over again — except without the asshole president!

hman (#53)

And without cameos by a certain Englishman, I presume.

Tuna Surprise (#573)

So many important questions:

1. Is there a potluck sign up sheet?
2. Will there be a bj/kissing booth?
3. What is everyone else wearing?

jolie (#16)

Tuna you BEST be there. I will be your personal kissing booth, lady!

HiredGoons (#603)

The kissing booth is the gloryhole in the men's room Tuna.

Miles Klee (#3,657)

people i am soon to meet in real life: do not assume, based on this first encounter, that i hate you, because i hate people who instantly think i hate them.

Matt (#26)


Miles Klee (#3,657)


Peter Feld (#79)

I don't think the wine into which she threw those ice cubes and the twist is going to be anything to mourn.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

spillage of any boxed wine is a crying shame

C_Webb (#855)

I solve this problem by drinking directly from the box.

HiredGoons (#603)

As I have explained to her, it is very difficult for me to comment on these because we are, essentially, the same person.

Just do what she says, everything is correct and good.

HiredGoons (#603)

(I didn't get an invitation!)

HiredGoons (#603)

oh. I'm an idiot. Carry on.

deepomega (#1,720)

There there. Don't be so hard on yourself. Have you been to an optometrist to see if you have italichromatic dystrophy? That's where your eyes cannot read italics.

HiredGoons (#603)

My vision was blurry with rage, just returned from a lovely tet-a-tet with a freelancer.

nicole (#2,443)

@hg. big empathy for you!

@ jolie! yay! this was the bestest! I am so going to come praise you heartily for your lemon squares on june 17!

Rod T (#33)

You fool. You never give away your signature recipe. I overshare, sure. But give you my almond blueberry lemon (marijuana) cookie recipe? Never.

Miles Klee (#3,657)

that's okay as long as you bring said cookies

DAMMIT sqaured. Now I'm cancelling my flight so I can come.

OK, so Jolie's on the hook for the lemon squares. Check.

Who's bringing the plastic sheeting?

gumplr (#66)

Snooki's Diet Weapon: LEMON SQUARES

cuiveen (#370)

I would perhaps be interested in meeting up with any other SF folks to do this kind of thing. Though it does mean getting over the shame of the occasional lame comment.

melis (#1,854)

YES to SF. We don't need their lemon squares and their happiness.

cuiveen (#370)

Well, honestly, I was still going to give the lemon squares a try. I might "Rod Townsend" them up a bit…

jolie (#16)

Oh right also! You can email me at justsayjolie at gmail if you need my attention for any reason.

Baked goods are very welcome! Bonus points if you manage to make a confectionery tribute to Choire!

And if someone who is awesome with photoshop could volunteer to make me a Pin the Tears on The Balk game I will love you forever.

You could make teardrops out of post its and put them on him when he is passed out if no one has photoshop.

Don't the teardrops mean that Balk killed a guy once?

…with kindness?

sox (#652)

I am just realizing that I have never had homemade lemon squares. Only the instant betty crocker kind from a box at the end-of-track-season banquets.
Reason number 8,963 that I should be living in NY right now.

jolie (#16)

You should try to make these – they really are a snap. If you don't have a food processor you can use a handheld mixer to do the crust, just let your butter come up to room temp to make things easier on you.

coleslaw (#593)

Just not on the melty side of room temp! Because that will make things harder on you again, because everything will stick to you, and no amount of wiping will make it like the pan better than it likes you, and you'll wind up with butter and crumbs all over your face and your clothes and your wine-with-ice glass, which you'll stare into, mourning your dignity.

C_Webb (#855)

Can we get that DJ from Stardust Entertainment? I'm sure I speak for others when I say that my boobs could use a good bongo.

Actually I'm not at all sure. Never mind. I'll bring pie and spoons.

HiredGoons (#603)

I'm bringing Erotic Cake.

nicole (#2,443)

is that the tribute to choire?

HiredGoons (#603)

Balk's Cock.

Grant G Brown (#3,366)

There better not be pink panty pulldown punch. It's just unfair to everyone not going.

I'll just go sit in the bathtub and get drunk. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HiredGoons (#603)

Word of advice, do not wear white or anything flammable/with sentimental value.

jolie (#16)


garge (#736)

Back to the drawing board!

garge (#736)

I just can't think of ANYTHING besides my brushed acetate wedding gown to wear, so I am going to chance it.

forrealz (#1,530)

Are you going to invite Ronbo?

HiredGoons (#603)

Ooo! I just remembered I know a bartender at the Scratcher! I hope she still works there so shit CAN GET LOOSE.

So, srsly, are Unpronounceable and Balk gonna show? Cho?

jolie (#16)

Cho will come and implant us all with demographic-information-gathering microchips.

Balk will show up out of a sense of obligation and begrudging gratitude even though he will be MISERABLE and will PISS AND MOAN to anyone who will listen about having to do so.

Choire will have seventeen panic attacks each day leading up to the event, never give a straight answer one way or the other and ultimately arrive at the bar at 6:53, stay for precisely 21 minutes before leaving, a half-full glass of seltzer water serving as the lone reminder that he was there.

Actually, I feel like kind of a dick for referring to Choire as "Unpronounceable". Sorry, dude.

As pronunciation goes, Mr Sicha's name is fraught with possibilities:

Limaceous (#2,392)

As another West Coast type, I would like to pretend that I would actually show up to something in SF. (But let's face it, I would not actually be able to get over the shame of the occasional lame comment.)

sigerson (#179)

COMMENTER'S BAWL!!! I am simultaneously thrilled, bemused and terrified. Also.

Also, you said fuck way too few times…

HiredGoons (#603)

And drank too little.

Also! We've got over a MONTH to stew before the Bawl. I foresee a rise in psychotropic consumption and a decline in bodega beer stocks.

hockeymom (#143)

The New York magazine description of Scratcher:

"the young and hip pack the wooden tables and schoolhouse-style benches, and the low-key, all-are-welcome vibe invites locals to settle in and make new friends"

Can not young, not hip people come?

C_Webb (#855)

It's right next to my work; I go there all the time. You'll be fine. Rar.

brent_cox (#40)

We can come, we just can't pack the wooden tables.

cherrispryte (#444)

Oh I am seriously heartbroken. I have a super-important concert that night that I bought tickets for ages ago. Damn.

C_Webb (#855)

Bring the band.

Multiphasic (#411)

And I, I have a friend's wedding to groomsman at on the 19th. In San Francisco. Meaning I may be in San Francisco. And not at Scratcher!

Either half of you care about this, or one of you half-cares about this, or one-half of you cares about half of this.

I CARE. I really really care. Can we move for a re-run at the end of September? Assuming anyone's still standing after the first round? I will bring the most obscene brownies anyone's ever eaten. (I am not above bribery.)

kneetoe (#1,881)

I will continue to drink every night between now and then so that I'll be in good drinking shape for this. And I'll go to the gym so that I'll be in reasonable regular shape for this. Then I won't show up. Oh well.

garge (#736)

I was hoping it would be at a bar with a view of a park so you'd have to come.

Ziggy (#529)

Such clever wordplay, that Commenter's Bawl.

(Insert golf clap here.)

Dishwasher here, envious of your Kitchen Aid mixer. Bet I could stash a lot of mail and mystery keys in that bowl!

Best one yet, Jolie.

Or food processor, whoops. All look the same to me!

jolie (#16)

Shhh… I have both! I love my KitchenAid so much I named it after Choire's nickname for me: WHITE WOMAN.

HiredGoons (#603)

I have a fold-out futon out-of-towners can stay on, but only if they all sleep naked together while I look on from the kitchen with a martini.

garge (#736)

That depends .. are martinis included?

Wow. The 90s just flashed before mine eyes.

("Oh, we are both here visiting mutual aquaintances from out-of-town? I suppose will end up sharing the couch and fooling around all night. Nice to meet you.")

HiredGoons (#603)

Martinis are never NOT included.

I hope you all have the best time! The whole not living in New York anymore thing kind of prevents me from attending. And I'd consider using this as an excuse for getting back up there for a weekend, but I'm flying back to my hometown the next day to throw a surprise 60th bday party for my fabulous mother.
But seriously, have so much fun, and take lots of pictures! Especially of Balk!

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