Monday, December 5, 2011

Two More Cookie Finalists!

Last year I was the only one choosing recipes and baking cookies.  There are five of us participating this year and it has been interesting to watch how recipes are selected.  Just like everyone in the world, we all have our favorites -- favorite textures, and favorite flavors.  Some of us choose cookies based on what our families like.  Some recipes have been selected because of fond memories of a similar cookie.  And some of us (count me in!) have trouble picking only two recipes.  So just a few of us piggies will be posting three recipes instead of two.  Hey!  We have to bake Christmas cookies for our friends and families anyway.  Right?

The second finalist is Lemon Bars Deluxe from Lynn in Texas.  This will come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog.  I've been sending out not-at-all subtle hints that I wanted a lemon square recipe.  Cleone Hawkinson sent us a very similar lemon square recipe, but -- poor Cleone.  Her daughter-in-law, Wendy, mentioned their relationship.  We decided that it wouldn't be fair to include family members.  So, Cleone, thank you for sending your recipe!  Wendy is lucky to have such a lovely mother-in-law!

On to Lynn's Lemon Bars Deluxe.  Aside from having a craving for lemon bars, there are a couple of things I particularly like about the recipe.  The main thing is that it can be frozen.  It's so handy to be able to cook them ahead of time and thaw them for Christmas festivities.  If you read my mysteries, you know that Sophie always has stashes in the freezer that she can pull out to serve at the last minute.  Apparently, these also survive three days at room temperature!  That would make them very practical for anyone who has to take baked goods with them on a car trip to Grandma's house.

Lynn notes that they're time-consuming.  They are in that the crust has to be refrigerated before it's baked.  But if you happen to have your Christmas card list nearby or you need to walk the dogs, that's a great time to do it.

Here's what Lynn said~

Now I recall the recipe was time-consuming but seemed worth the effort as I made it more than once!  Here it is:

Lemon Bars Deluxe

Yields about 2 dozen bars


Extra softened butter for greasing pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Lightly butter a 13- x 9-inch baking dish and line with parchment or wax paper allowing edges to come over the sides.

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Pulse flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor.

Add butter and blend, 8 to 10 seconds, and then pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Sprinkle mixture into prepared baking pan and press firmly into an even layer with slightly raised sides to hold in the filling. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes and then bake until golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes; remove from oven and let cool slightly. After crust is finished baking, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Lemon Filling:

4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from two large lemons)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
1/3 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon salt

While crust is baking, make the Lemon Filling:

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour; stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, milk, and salt to blend well. Pour mixture onto the pan on top of the warm crust.

NOTE: You may set prepared Lemon Filling aside until crust is finished baking. When ready to pour on warm crust, re-blend Lemon Filling mixture and pour into the warm crust.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling feels firm when touched lightly. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes.

Grasp the parchment and carefully lift the bars onto a cutting board. Cut into serving size squares or bars, wiping your knife clean between cuts if necessary.

Extra powdered or confectioners' sugar to decorate finished bars.

Sieve powdered or confectioners' sugar over bars and serve. NOTE: The powdered sugar will start to be absorbed into the Lemon Filling after several hours, but it can be reapplied before serving.

Storage: 3 days at room temperature, 3 weeks refrigerated (individually wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent drying), or 3 months frozen.

The dough is a snap in a food processor.

The filling seems runny, but don't worry!
I'm including this because I thought I'd goofed with those funky brown spots.  The powdered sugar covers them.  Whew!

Lynn is right.  They're well worth the effort!

But I'm not done yet.  We have another finalist today!  Finalist number three is Raspberry Rollups from Kathy Kaminski.  The raspberry jam got my attention immediately.  It wasn't until I took a closer look that I realized this recipe is similar to one my mom makes.  My mom's recipe requires a lot of rolling out and folding of the dough to create a flaky pastry and while they're very good, they're a lot of work.  So I was eager to see how this would work out.

Here's what Kathy said ~
Here are 2 favorite family Christmas cookie recipes-both from my mom's mom.

Raspberry Rollups

1 cup butter or margarine
½ cup (8 oz. package) cream cheese
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
Red raspberry jam

Combine butter and cream cheese and blend until smooth.  Combine flour and salt and blend into butter mixture. Chill about half an hour. Roll about ¼ inch thick. Cut into 2 ½ inch squares. Spread each square with one teaspoon raspberry jam to within ¼ inch of edge. Roll up firmly. Place rolled edge down on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 420 degrees about 12 minutes or until golden brown.

My mom remembers these as pillow cookies. Instead of rolling the squares up, her mom folded them like a ravioli. She also used other jams in addition to the raspberry-apricot was another one.

I spread a little extra jam along the edges to help seal the pillows.

Three shapes out of one recipe: roll-ups; pillows; and the windmills that my mom used to make.

Fresh from the oven.

Served as dessert!  Don't be fooled by the fact that there's no sugar in the dough.  They're delicious!



  1. These look so *good*! I could eat these cookies for breakfast right now. :) And the cool thing is that they're so *different* from what I usually make. Yum.

  2. Aren't these beautiful cookies! Love both of them. And I love the pictures, Krista.


  3. Elizabeth, the variety of the cookies submitted has been astonishing. It has been hard to pick just a couple of recipes to try!

    ~ Krista

  4. Thanks, Avery! But Lynn and Kathy deserve the credit!

    ~ Krista

  5. Oh, lemon bars! I haven't made those in such a long time. I will put them on my cookie list! Those raspberry rollups look divine! Here's to holiday cookies :)

  6. They're delicious, Helena Georgette. Time to start baking! : )

    ~ Krista

  7. This is such a nice surprise and great honor to be among the finalists in the cookie contest!

    My late MIL would be so proud, as we were always in search of the best lemon squares/bars. We loved enjoying them during shopping trips to Neiman-Marcus and were always trying to perfect their recipe, but somehow they never tasted quite as good as when we had them in the Zodiac Room in Dallas! Maybe it was the atmosphere and the company! But I think this recipe comes close to perfection!

    Those raspberry roll-ups look heavenly to me too, Kathy!

    The contest has been great fun. Thanks, Krista, and all the other mysterious women of the blog!

  8. Thank you so much. I'm so proud my family's recipe was chosen-I can't wait to tell my mom. I'm sure Nana is beaming down from heaven that her recipe is so popular. I guess I better bake a batch of those pillow cookies this year. The other recipes look divine-yup, better clean that kitchen and find time to bake! (I'm Kathy.)

  9. These are amazing - and here I wasn't going to get too involved in cookie baking this year because my calendar is TOO full. These are forcing me to reconsider! YUM!!!

  10. Lynn, I love these lemon bars. It's going to take some serious willpower not to sneak some from the freezer. Thanks for sending us the recipe!

    And I love being called the mysterious women of the blog! LOL!

    ~ Krista

  11. Kathy, your cookies are wonderful. My mom baked some today and the smell outside her window was heavenly. I bet Nana is beaming, too!

    ~ Krista

  12. Jenn, I don't know anyone busier than you, but I bet you wind up baking anyway. I don't know how you manage it all!

    ~ Krista