It’s been a while since I’ve had an epic holiday baking season. I’ve been thinking back on the timeline.
2012 – We were driving across the country to move to California.
2013 – Small apartment kitchen.
2014 – Larger kitchen, but still a rental.
2015 – Same. And settling in after another move.
2016 – Big kitchen, new house, but I was photographing a cookbook for someone else while working on my own.
But now it’s 2017. I have a brand new kitchen. Not to mention an oven that has been OFF for months due to the summer heat.
I’m ready. It’s about to get real.
We have loads of lemons this year. Finally! Our Meyer lemon tree has taken a liking to its new home. I’ll write more about that later, but it has me on a mission to keep lemon as a holiday ingredient.
It’s so strongly associated with summer and lemonade, but lemons are in season in the winter, not the summer. They are most definitely fit for the holidays.
They go surprisingly well with seasonal spices and other holiday fruit flavors.
I’ve made lemon brownies before, for a client, and I remember one comment I got on that content was – how can they be brownies if they aren’t brown?
But this is really more of a texture and baked good category kind of thing. Also, they rock.
In certain situations, I’d take one over a chocolate, brown brownie.
Also, what else are you going to call them? Lemon bars or squares have a pretty distinct definition in the States so I’m trying to avoid confusion by possibly creating more confusion.
Lemon brownies it is!
The batter is very lightly spiced with allspice and clove, but don’t let that deter you if it’s not your thing. It’s faint, and if you want to leave it out all together, you can.
I usually bake these up in a standard 8-x-8-inch brownie pan, but I have this longer, skinny loaf pan I got from IKEA and sometimes I like to switch things up.
Baking them like that lets me cut strips or slices like I have pictured. It’s simply a fun way to add variety. Either way, you’ll get 9 to 12 servings depending on how large you’d like them.
I’m planning to send everything I bake this season straight out the door to my husband’s coworkers, after maybe a bite or two. Although, I’ll admit to having a hint of regret that I didn’t keep more of these around!
Spiced Lemon Brownies with Sour Cream Cranberry Frosting
Makes 9 to 12 servings
What you’ll need:
2 tablespoons fresh whole cranberries
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon sour cream
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
3/4 cup superfine granulated baking sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, optional
Pinch ground clove, optional
1 3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
How to make them:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch pan, or a similar loaf pan, with butter. (Line the pan with parchment paper if you’d like to remove the brownies and frost outside of the pan.)
Place the cranberries in a small zip-top bag and add the sugar. Seal and gently smash to break the berries. (I find this is the best way to macerate the berries and to keep from making a mess when you chop them later.) Set aside while you make the brownies.
Melt the sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Transfer to a heat safe bowl. Let cool a few minutes and then stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Once it is slightly warm and not hot, blend in the eggs until all ingredients are combined. Add the salt, and allspice and clove, if using.
Fold in the flour just until all ingredients are blended. Transfer the batter to the baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (note that baking times may vary depending on the type of pan you use), until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges begin to brown. Let cool.
Transfer the cranberries and sugar to a cutting board and finely chop the berries. Add to a medium bowl. Stir in the sour cream and salt, and then the powdered sugar a little at a time. Stir well until smooth. It should be thick, but spreadable. The cranberries will have a varying amount of liquid so let the frosting sit for 5 minutes. Check the consistency. Add more powdered sugar if needed. If it becomes too thick, you can always add a touch more of sour cream.
You can frost the brownies in the pan, or remove them from the pan and spread the frosting on. Cut into 9 to 12 servings and enjoy!