Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sub-Lime

Yes, I know it's been a while since I posted. Last week was delightfully busy with many good evenings and meals out with friends, so I didn't do any new cooking until today.

And even today, I didn't cook as much as I had thought I would, opting instead to get through only the prep for something I'll throw into the slow cooker tomorrow.

But I did succumb to a sweet craving... as well as to those last limes left over from my recent round of sore throat soothing, so after a long phone conversation with the fair Titania... who burbled on about the beautiful little Meyer lemons she found at the store and the lemon squares she thought she might make... I decided to bring back one of my favorite creations from last year: lime-ginger squares.

My weekend was full of other activities, too, including a fair amount of cleaning and creative work, so instead of going into the detail of making these light and luscious treats all over again, I will share with you an excerpt of a story in which this dessert appears. Enjoy!

Finishing her coffee, she changed the subject. "What do you have left to bake?"

"I've still got the cookies to make," Helen replied, pulling out the mix. "All the muffins are done and ready to set out, aside from the batch in the oven."

"And what new treat do you plan on making today?" Sarah adored her friend's endless creativity and was always happy to sample new desserts.

"This spring weather has had me craving something lighter, so I thought perhaps lime-ginger squares would be a nice change of pace," Helen responded.

"Mmmmm... those sound good," Sarah nearly drooled. "Where did you get the idea for that?"

"Let's just say I was inspired," she smiled enigmatically.

"Well, wherever you get your inspiration, don't stop!" Sarah caught a glimpse of her friend's lopsided grin as she turned to leave the kitchen and get the place ready to open in half an hour.

*****

By two o'clock, the lunch crowd had departed, and the coffee house was nearly empty when Kendall came in. Sarah greeted him effusively, "Oh, Kendall, the sunshine has come back out again, now that you are here to brighten our day!"

He chuckled at her bright teasing smile and bowed deeply to her. "My lovely Miss Sarah, had I known that you depended on me so, I would have camped out on your doorstep this very morning."

"Well, there's always tomorrow!" She winked playfully at him, then joined in his laughter.

"You two," they heard Helen’s amused voice say as she emerged from the kitchen. "Between the two of you hamming it up, we could probably cancel this week's deli order."

They both burst into further gales of laughter, and Helen herself chuckled merrily as she took a tea press from the shelf. When she could get a word in, she asked, "Kendall, what kind of tea would you like today?"

"Scottish breakfast, please, dear Helen," he replied. "It's time for a potent brew. And what, pray tell, are you planning to tempt me with today?"

She cast an enigmatic smile back at him as she filled the press with boiling water, and she answered, "Lime-ginger squares."

"They melt in your mouth," Sarah confirmed, sighing happily.

"Lime and ginger, eh?" Kendall asked, quirking an eyebrow at Helen. "And what happy thought inspired that combination?" he grinned broadly.

"I just wanted to capture the essence of springtime... and youth," she replied airily, giving him a secret smile.

"I'd better take two, then," he said, delighted.


Lime-Ginger Squares

I've always enjoyed lemon bars, though I don't seem to make them very often. But one day I thought, what if I made lime bars? And what if I combine the lime with ginger to add a bright, sweet but spicy kick? I based this recipe on the basic lemon square recipe, with just a few happy additions.

1/2 c butter
1/4 c maple or confectioners' sugar
1 c flour (sifted)
grated rind from 1 lime
1 tsp ground ginger
2 eggs
1 c sugar (organic cane juice crystals work well)
2 T flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c mini diced crystallized ginger
grated rind from 1 lime
juice from both of the limes used above

Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in 1 c flour, lime rind, and ginger; pat into bottom of greased 8" square baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven but leave heat on.

While crust is baking, beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar and beat until thick and lemon-colored. Blend in 2 T flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, lime rind, and lime juice. Spread over partially baked crust. Bake 25 minutes longer, or until top is firm and brown. Cool on wire cake rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Cut into squares.

Makes 16 2" squares

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