When someone mentions Holiday baking, my thoughts instantly run to a singular memory, baking Christmas cookies with my Aunt Geraldine.
Aunt Gerry is a Librarian turned Kindergarten teacher who is invariably the best cook in my family. She is completely self-taught, yet my highly-trained skills don't hold a candle to hers! And beyond being a great cook she is a fabulous baker. Her cakes and cookies are known throughout the area. She can take a simple cookie recipe and turn it into something spectacular, however getting her to give up one of her recipes is like a matter of national security.
Every Christmas Aunt Gerry puts together assorted cookie trays to give as gifts. They are loaded with Snow Balls, Rugelach, Thumbprints, Gingerbread Men, Madelines, and my absolute favorite Lemon Bars. For years, I would head over to her house two weeks before Christmas, roll-up my sleeves and join in the cookie making. I always wanted to start with the Lemon Bars, but she'd make me wait. Usually I got stuck with the Sugar cookies, Madelines, and Snow Balls while she'd save the Lemon Bars for herself. I would sit anxiously and watch as she pressed the shortbread crust into her glass Pyrex dish, then prepare the filling. While they baked I would go back to preparing the other cookies all the while thinking of that first bite of a Lemon Bar. Honestly, those bars were the only reason I returned to bake with Aunt Gerry year after year! And I'm almost certain that she knew if we made those Lemon Bars first I would take my share and be out the front door leaving her to finish the rest of the baking on her own.
Lemon Bars can be enjoyed year round, but I only want them during the Holiday season when each bite takes me back to my Aunt's kitchen. For me, watching her make those bars and spending that time with Aunt Gerry is not just my favorite Holiday baking memory but one of my favorite cooking memories, period.
Listed below is her original recipe for Lemon Bars, but being the caliber of cook that she is, the one she uses has changed many times over the years. She claims that she currently uses one from the Barefoot Contessa, but who really knows. I still use the original and it works perfect for me every time.
Lemon Butter Snow Bars
From my Aunt Gerry
Makes 10-12 Bars
- 1/2 c butter, softened
- 1 1/3 c flour
- 1/4 c sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 c sugar
- 2T flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3T Lemon Juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine crust ingredients, and mix by hand about 1 minute until blended. Pat crust into an ungreased 8" square pan. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes until brown on the edges. Combine filling ingredients and pour over partially baked crust. Return to oven and bake an additional 18-20 minutes or until set. Remove pan from the oven, let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into bar shaped pieces and serve.