When I first made these, it was a lemon-coconut-cranberry version. Then I tried them with blueberries. And then raspberries. All were fabulous. My mom declared them the best squares she had ever eaten. “But of course these ones aren’t low fat, right?” she asked. She couldn’t tell I had trimmed half the butter from the shortbread crust.
To be honest, when I owned a low-fat cookie bakery and was writing my first cookbook, a base for shortbread squares was among the most difficult formulas I wrestled with. After all, shortbread is a fairly precise combination of butter, sugar and flour, and to mess with it ruins its texture.
I experimented with all kinds of creative additions to make up for the butter I skimmed from the basic ratio (1/2 cup butter to 1 cup flour) before realizing that I could merely trim the butter without necessarily replacing it with anything and it would be just fine. If you use only 1/4 cup of butter to a scant cup of flour for your shortbread base, it will work out just fine. The mixture will be crumbly and you’ll have to press it into the bottom of your pan, but once it’s topped with filling and baked, you’ll never notice the difference. And that 1/4 cup you trimmed? That’s 44 grams of fat and 400 calories.
These are my favourite bars to make at Christmas using cranberries, and in summer with blueberries. They’re a snap to make. If you freeze them first and cut them frozen (or partially frozen), they’ll slice more cleanly, so they’re great to make ahead for parties and other events, or to just keep on hand for sweet tooth emergencies. I haven’t yet met anyone who doesn’t love them.
(Low Fat) Blueberry, Lemon & Coconut Squares
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 scant cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries or cranberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add flour and salt and stir until well combined and crumbly.
Press into the bottom of an 8” x 8” pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just barely golden around the edges.
In the same bowl (no need to wash it), combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add egg, egg white and lemon juice and stir until well blended and smooth.
Sprinkle the berries and coconut evenly over the base, and pour the lemon filling over top. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and set. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting or freezing. If you like, sprinkle with icing sugar before serving. Makes 16 squares.
Per square: 130 calories, 3.3 g fat (1.9 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 24 g carbohydrates, 21 mg cholesterol, 1.6 g protein, 0.7 g fiber. 23% calories from fat