Twenty luscious Lemon Squares with Kalamansi are cooling on the counter, waiting to be wrapped. I just baked them. The lemon and lime aroma filled the kitchen, traveled through the ceiling towards the dining room, like a north star drawing you to the dessert. The bars were golden yellow, sprinkled with sweet confectioners’ sugar. They tasted tart-like, yet had a sweet shy savory flavor. They’re lemon – kalamansi bars, and I baked them for a family birthday.
I have been baking lemon bars, or what some refer to as lemon squares for as long as eternity. I have tried different recipes. But one thing remains the same. I always bake it at this time of the year, more than any other time.
Years ago, in the Philippines, I used kalamansi, the Filipino lime, for these dessert bars. The Filipino kalamansi are small round citrus fruits, with a dark green outer skin and an orange-yellow flesh inside. From these tiny spheres came the most piercing limey aroma, that was sweeter than a regular American lemon, the latter having more tart traits.
The Filipino kalamansi is a staple in nearly every Philippine household. Its short tree shrub grows abundantly in many backyards around the country. It has versatile uses, too. The kalamansi is used as an ingredient for dishes, as a flavoring for baking, as a refreshing addition to beverages, and even makes its way to medicinal uses, or home remedies, and even as a cleaning or bleaching agent on fabrics.
Back here in my American kitchen, I have access to frozen kalamansi concentrate from the Asian groceries. I combined it with fresh lemons which are sweetest in the summer here in the east coast. When I merged and mingled both citrus fruit flavors, the result on these lemon-kalamansi bars was irresistible.
As I sliced them, the bright golden yellow bars were soft, moist, dewy with a delicate lemony-limy scent. The gel-like centers were delightfully encased on a beautiful bottom of buttery, flakey crust. When I lifted the entire bar from the pan it was baked in, tiny crumbs of the crust carelessly fell off on the sides. But the lemon- kalamansi bar stayed firm and marvelous, ready to be devoured by my oldest son, Tim, who celebrates his birthday today. And you are reading this blog because of Tim. He is the brains behind this site’s sleek design. He is the oldest of my wonderful sons, and both have helped and inspired me to write my food sites. He loves and lives for these lemon – kalamansi bars, most especially this time of year, his birthday.
Lemon Squares with Kalamansi
- Baking pan: 9 x 13 inches
- 2 cups all-purpose flour for crust
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar for crust
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter cold and cut into small pieces
- 8 whole eggs
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice from about 8 large lemons
- 1/4 cup calamansi juice frozen or from fresh fruit
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for filling
- 3 Tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon organic lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar for sprinkling on bars
- 2 cups granulated sugar for the lemon-calamansi filling
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Pre-grease a 9 inches x 13 inches baking pan with baking spray.
- How to prepare the crust: In a food processor, combine the 2 cups flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the cold butter. Pulse till it resembles coarse crumbs. Press this mixture to the bottom of the baking pan. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm up.
- Bake the crust for 20 minutes in a 350 F degrees, till lightly brown. Remove from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 F degrees.
- Make the lemon filling : Beat the eggs in mixer till thick. Blend in granulated sugar, lemon and calamansi juices, and the zest.
- Add the 1/2 cup flour, baking powder and soda. Last, add the lemon extract. Mix well. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 38 to 40 minutes at 325 F degrees or test with a knife to see if it is done. If knife comes out clean, then lemon-calamansi squares are cooked.
- Remove from oven and cool on counter for at least 40 minutes or till thoroughly at room temperature. Sprinkle the top with confectioner's sugar after the entire dessert has cooled or else sugar topping will melt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight. Slice in equal-sized square bars, about 2 inches x 2 inches.
- Cook's comment: If calamansi is not available, substitute the same amount with fresh lemon juice.
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Nutrition Notes: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking or baking methods and brands of ingredients used.
Did you love this recipe? I have more Philippine dessert recipes in my popular cookbook How to Cook Philippine Desserts, Cakes and Snacks.
If you need Filipino Instant Pot recipes, find more in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot. Buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]