Want to know what summer tastes like? Bite into one of these squares. The berry cousin of lemon bars, they’re bursting with fresh, juicy and slightly tart raspberries, so they’re fruity and sweet, but not overly so. The use of a little cornstarch in the crust makes it super crisp (also allowing to reduce the amount of butter used in the recipe), and pecans contribute to balance out the bright flavor of the fruit. The filling is almost all raspberry, and again, a little cornstarch is used to thicken the mixture and allow it to set instead of additional egg yolks and butter, letting the fruit shine and making the dessert almost sinless. I like to serve the squares topped with additional fresh raspberries, but they’re absolutely fantastic on their own too.
Makes 9 squares
1 cup [250 ml] unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup [60 ml] ground pecan nuts
1/3 cup [80 ml] powdered (confectioners’) sugar
3 tbsp [45 ml] cornstarch
¼ tsp [1.25 ml] salt
3 tbsp [45 ml] canola oil
3 tbsp [30 ml] butter, softened
3 cups [750 ml] fresh raspberries (you can use frozen – not thawed – raspberries too)
1/3 cup [80 ml] water
2 tbsp [30 ml] freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 large eggs
1/3 cup [80 ml] granulated sugar
3 tbsp [45 ml] cornstarch
Pinch of salt
To serve (optional)
Powdered (confectioners’) sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F [175°C]. Line an 8-inch [20-cm] square baking pan with parchment paper, letting it overhang on two sides.
For the crust: Combine flour, ground pecan nuts, powdered (confectioners’) sugar, cornstarch and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add oil and butter. Using a fork or your fingertips, blend into the flour mixture until evenly combined. The mixture should be a little crumbly. Firmly press the dough into the prepared pan. Bake until just barely beginning to brown around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes.
For the filling: While the crust is baking, combine raspberries and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit is very soft and mostly broken down, 4 to 6 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on the solids to extract all the liquid. Discard the seeds. Pour the strained juice into a measuring cup. You need 1 cup strained juice; remove any extra or add a little water if you are short. Stir in lemon juice.
Whisk granulated sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Whisk in eggs. Stir in the juice mixture, pouring it slowly into the egg mixture while beating constantly. Pour the filling over the crust.
Bake until just set, 15 to 20 minutes. (The center should still be a little jiggly—it will firm up as it cools.) Let cool to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack, about 1 ½ hours. Gently slide a sharp knife along the edges of the pan that are not covered with parchment paper, and lift out of the pan all in one piece using the edges of the parchment paper. Cut into 9 squares.
Dust with powdered (confectioners’) sugar and garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired, just before serving. Keep remaining squares in an airtight container (in a single layer) in the fridge and eat within 3 days.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Eating Well Magazine.