The first time my husband and I built a Sukkah as parents, my friend Pati brought a platter of lemon bars that we all finished in about five seconds. Everyone in my family loves lemon bars — that’s no surprise — but for some reason I never make them. Except that ever since that Sukkot about 10 years ago, my youngest son has been asking for lemon bars once a year, on the day we build our Sukkah.
And so a little (Jewish?) tradition was born, one I intend to keep. I find my son’s need for a ritual very sweet, especially when he connects one of my favorite holidays with one of his favorite treats.
It reminded me of a classic dessert from the 1970’s my mother used to make, a chocolate salami filled with coconut that I had a love-hate relationship with, but started missing as I became more and more nostalgic during the holiday. That’s the power of food memories.
Yields about 20 bars
For the crust:
1/2 lb. soft butter (two sticks)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the lemon filling:
6 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 13”x9” pan.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, mix all crust ingredients until they form a dough. Press dough into greased pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden-brown on edges. Remove from oven, but leave oven on.
3. While crust is baking, mix eggs, sugar, lemon juice and flour to make the filling. Once the crust is out of the oven, pour filling in and bake for 25 minutes, until the sides are set. The center will be set after it cools down. Cool completely.
4. Use a sharp knife to slice into bars. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Coconut-filled chocolate salami
This classic dessert was popular in Israel in the 1970s. Recipe from my mother, Erela Arnon, and my dear friend Galit Bineth.
1/2 lb. Petit beurre or shortbread cookies, crumbled
7 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cacao powder
For the coconut filling:
8 tablespoons butter at room temperature
4 oz. (about 2 cups) shredded coconut
4 oz. (a little less than 1 cup) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
1. Put crumbled cookies in a medium bowl. Mix boiling water, sugar and cacao, and pour over cookies. Mix and let cool. Stretch plastic wrap on a work surface, and spread the cookie-cacao mixture into a long, 4-inch-wide rectangle.
2. Mix coconut filling ingredients and spread over cookie-cacao mixture, leaving a 1/4-inch chocolate border at the top and bottom. Roll into a salami shape using the plastic wrap. Seal plastic wrap, transfer to a tray and keep in fridge for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving.