These easy to make Lemon and Walnut Squares have a sweet, nutty filling that is a delicious contrast to the zingy lemon icing on top. A favourite of my late Mom – who liked all things lemony – they make a great addition to any Christmas cookie tray.
History of Lemon Walnut Squares
This is the original recipe, which has been in my late Mom’s recipe box for the last 60 years. It’s a bit of a mystery as I don’t recall my Mom ever saying where she got it. There is nothing to identify the author on the paper either. I don’t know why I never asked Mom about it.
i did some research and found out that squares and bar cookies date back to the 1930’s. The paper is so yellow and brittle now I’m guessing the recipe for Lemon Walnut Squares does date from around that time. The language is another thing that makes me think the recipe might date from earlier in the twentieth century rather than later. I was always taken by way the writer put “foundation” instead of “base”.
After years of making the recipe, I’ve expanded on the instructions to make it easier for you to bake these treats. (See the printable recipe below.) Cooks in the early part of the twentieth century didn’t always include as much detail as we do today.
I may not be sure of the origin of this recipe, but one thing I do know for sure is that these squares really are delicious!
Tips for Making Lemon Walnut Squares
- The filling does cook up relatively quickly and tends to go quite brown. Don’t worry about this as once the squares are iced no one will notice.
- Be sure to let the squares cook completely before you ice them.
- These delicious treats are very rich, so I usually cut the squares quite small.
Can the Recipe Be Made Gluten Free?
If you replace the flour in the Lemon and Walnut Squares base with a gluten free one to one blend, the recipe will be gluten free.
It may be a mystery where this recipe comes from, but I’m very happy it was adopted as part of our family’s traditions. I hope that it will become a part of your family’s Christmas traditions too!
Lemon Walnut Squares – Printable Recipe
Lemon and Walnut Squares
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 1½ cups all purpose flour all purpose flour is also known as plain flour
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- ½ cup dessicated or flaked coconut flaked coconut is preferable, but it's hard to find in the UK so I use dessicated
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 1¼ cups brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- For the icing
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 2 cups icing sugar icing sugar is also known as confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice you may not need it all
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ (170℃ or 160℃ for a fan oven).
- Lightly butter an 8 inch square pan.
- Cream together the butter, flour and white sugar. Pat the mixture into the pan.
- Bake for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Mix together the coconut, walnuts, brown sugar, baking powder and eggs in a medium bowl.
- Spread the mixture over the base evenly.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- The squares often look very brown when they come out of the oven but don’t worry, that is exactly as it should be. Set them aside to cool.
- When the squares are cool, make the frosting.
- Beat together the ¼ cup softened butter and the confectioner's sugar.
- Add the vanilla and beat together well.
- Gradually add the lemon juice, a tablespoonful at a time, beating well after each addition until you get a smooth, spreadable frosting.
- Spread the frosting over the squares in the pan. Chill in the fridge before cutting in small squares. Store covered in the refrigerator.
More Delicious Dessert and Treat Recipes
Cherry Date and Coconut Christmas Squares – Gluten Free