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Lemon Cream Cheese

Sunshine on a Plate: Crafting the Irresistible Lemon Cream Cheese Squares

Step into a world of citrus-infused delight with a recipe that captures the essence of sunshine—the Sunshine Lemon Cream Cheese Squares. This delectable treat marries the bright zing of lemons with the rich creaminess of cream cheese, creating a dessert that’s as refreshing as a summer breeze. Join me on a culinary adventure as we unravel the layers of flavor and texture that make these squares a perfect embodiment of sunshine on a plate.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Cream Cheese Layer:

  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Lemon Layer:

  • 1 cup lemon curd (store-bought or homemade)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

For Garnish:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Fresh berries
  • Mint leaves for decoration (optional)

Instructions:

1. Prepare the Crust:

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).
  • In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and granulated sugar.
  • Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×9-inch baking pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then let it cool while you prepare the filling.

2. Whip Up the Cream Cheese Layer:

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract, and beat until well combined and creamy.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cooled crust.

3. Create the Lemon Layer:

  • In a separate bowl, mix lemon curd, lemon zest, and fresh lemon juice.
  • Gently spread the lemon mixture over the cream cheese layer in the pan.

4. Bake to Perfection:

  • Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the center is set.
  • Allow the squares to cool in the pan, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight for the best texture.

5. Garnish and Serve:

  • Before serving, dust the top with powdered sugar.
  • Cut into squares and garnish with fresh berries and mint leaves if desired.

Cooking Notes:

  • Ensure the cream cheese is softened to room temperature for a smooth filling.
  • Use fresh lemon juice for the most vibrant flavor.
  • Refrigerating the squares allows them to set properly and enhances their texture.

Variations:

Raspberry Lemon Bliss:

  • Swirl raspberry preserves into the lemon curd for a sweet and tart contrast.
  • Top with fresh raspberries for a burst of color and flavor.

Coconut Citrus Symphony:

  • Add shredded coconut to the graham cracker crust for a tropical twist.
  • Mix coconut extract into the cream cheese layer for an extra layer of flavor.

Blueberry Burst:

  • Layer fresh blueberries between the cream cheese and lemon curd for a juicy surprise.
  • Garnish with additional blueberries for a visually stunning dessert.

Keto Version:

For those dedicated to a keto lifestyle, the Sunshine Lemon Cream Cheese Squares can be adapted to align with your dietary choices.

  • Replace graham cracker crumbs with a keto-friendly alternative made from almond flour or coconut flour.
  • Use a low-carb sweetener in place of granulated sugar in both the crust and the cream cheese layer.
  • Choose a sugar-free lemon curd or make your own using keto-friendly sweeteners.

Low-Carb Version:

If you’re watching your carb intake, here’s how to modify the Sunshine Lemon Cream Cheese Squares without compromising their luscious appeal.

  • Opt for a low-carb graham cracker substitute or use a combination of crushed nuts and coconut flour for the crust.
  • Choose a low-carb sweetener for the crust and cream cheese layer.
  • Select a sugar-free lemon curd or make your own with a low-carb sweetener.

A Slice of Citrus Heaven:

In concluding our exploration of the Sunshine Lemon Cream Cheese Squares, relish in the symphony of lemony goodness, creamy texture, and buttery crust that dance on your taste buds with each bite. This dessert is more than a treat; it’s a celebration of citrus at its finest, a tribute to the harmony of textures, and a testament to the joy found in creating simple yet extraordinary sweets.

Whether shared at a summer picnic, presented at a brunch gathering, or savored as a delightful ending to a special meal, the Sunshine Lemon Cream Cheese Squares invite you to embrace the sunshine in every mouthful. So, gather your baking essentials, let the bright aroma of lemons fill your kitchen, and indulge in the sheer delight of each square—a recipe destined to become a cherished favorite in your repertoire of dessert delights.

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