Two-Ingredient Lemon Squares

Lately I have been seeing a lot about a two-ingredient lemon bar concept. Reading numerous comments regarding the challenges of making the bars, the confusion surrounding the recipe, and the reviews of the taste of the product, had me wondering. The thought that this would work seemed kind of crazy to me, so I decided to challenge the idea in the What’s Cooking test kitchen. Well, I have concluded my own study and am here to share it with you.

With only two ingredient how can you go wrong? I mean seriously? My thought is that many people simply do not follow instructions. One of the first rules of cooking that I was taught, is when using a recipe, read through the entire recipe from beginning to end before starting. It is very important to make sure you understand what it is you are trying to accomplish.

Also many of us have preconceived notions of what a dish should taste like based on past experiences. If you are trying a different recipe for a potato salad, remember that it might taste different that the one your mother used to make. No one said it would taste the same as Mom’s.

In the test kitchen we found that the lemon squares are actually quite good, and will turn out great if you follow the instructions. These lemon bars, do not replace the ones that everyone loves around the holidays, but no one said they would. They are more “cake like” than the originals with a “spongy texture”, and do not have a shortbread crust on the bottom. But they are super easy to make, full of flavor, and honestly pretty good. They also contain a fraction of the calories of the holiday bars (that should tell you something right there). I do however think they would be perfect for a summer picnic or as a quick last-minute dessert. I would not suggest to take them to a holiday party. Even though they look about the same, you probably would disappoint those reaching for the lemon bars in their minds.

To prepare Lemon Squares:

Cooks Note: I called these lemon squares simply because they are not the lemon bars I know and love. But, they are not claiming to be. The squares are reminiscent of the flavor of the holiday classic. If you do not read anything more into this recipe than explained, they will turn out just fine.

  • 1 box angel food cake mix
  • 1 can lemon pie filling

Heat oven to 350° F. Prepare a 13 x 9 cake pan by greasing the bottom and sides.

Place the cake mix in a mixing bowl. Do not add water, eggs oil or any other ingredient, just the dry powder from the box.

Add lemon pie filling. Nothing else.

Mix by hand just to moisten cake mix. Do not beat with a mixer, just stir until combined. (Batter will be a bit sticky).

Spread the lemon mixture evenly into the baking pan. The batter is a bit thick but will spread out with a bit of coaxing.

Place the pan in the hot oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Dust with powdered sugar if desired (I know, I know, that makes three ingredients). Allow to cool completely before attempting to cut and remove the lemon squares from the pan.

I have also seen this idea made with a spice cake and a can of pumpkin…………..hmmmm?

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5 thoughts on “Two-Ingredient Lemon Squares

  1. Hmm. Do you think I need to make any high altitude adjustments to this or just follow the recipe? They look yummy!

  2. There aren’t a lot of adjustments to make really. You might look at the cake mix and see if it calls for additional flour, and your cooking time might be longer. I would rely on the color and test with a toothpick. Could be a fun experiment. Of course I would do this when Chef is not home. You know how he is….

    • Why yes I do! Thanks for the feedback. Baking hasn’t been my thing but I’m going to give it a try this weekend and let you know how it turn out!

  3. What size can pie filling? I have 21 oz but see other recipes that call for 15 oz.

    Also on the pumpkin/spice cake one is it plain pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling?

    thx

    • I used the small can of filling, I think more wet would probably prevent the bars from setting up. As far as the canned pumpkin, the difference really is spice. So depending on how much flavor you like I think it would work fine. Let me know how your bars turn out please. Remember the dough is really sticky and hard to mix, don’t let it fool you into adding more liquid. Have fun!

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