Lemon Slices

These Lemon Slices are another quick no-bake cookie which can be made up in a few minutes.   I first came across them when I was baby-sitting my darling little grandson for a few months while his mother went back to school.  In the evenings I'd while away some of the time doing "research" on the internet and I ran across several web sites entirely devoted to cooking and baking with Marie cookies.  I didn't even know they were so popular, let alone an invaluable baking ingredient.  In North America the Graham Cracker reigns supreme but in Europe, Asia and South America the Maria/Marie Biscuit holds the scepter and is used in all kinds of sweet treats. 

I made these for the family and we all enjoyed them.  The Marie cookie base is a nice change from a graham cracker base and is certainly just as delicious. 

According to Wikipedia "the Maria biscuit was created by the London bakery Peek Freans in 1874 to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia to the Duke of Edinburgh."  The Maria biscuit is known in Canada as Maria or Marie Cookies and can be found in most grocery stores as well as any dollar store or department store with a food section.  They are usually fairly inexpensive and they seem to go on sale at regular intervals.  I picked up a small package a couple of weeks ago for 99¢ at the grocery store and a large box for about $2 a few weeks before that.  I forgot I had the large box when I bought the small package.  My mind is gone.  

You'll notice the difference in the spelling of the cookie.  
The red package contains "Marie" cookies while the gold package contains "Maria" cookies.  
They are the same just different spellings stamped on the cookie.

This recipe hails from Australia where what we would refer to as "squares" or "bars" are called "slices".   I kind of like that it's called a slice as that's exactly what you do when you cut them.  The recipe for Lemon Slices is very popular with the Australian population and variations are found all over the internet if you pick up Australian blogs.  Actually, if you google "Marie Biscuit Lemon Slices" you'll almost always come up with blogs from that area.  They all contain Marie biscuits, sweetened condensed milk, coconut and of course lemons.   

Next time you see Marie or Maria Cookies at the store, grab a package and make these tangy Lemon Slices for your family and friends.  These are going to a baby shower (except for the first row, which is for tasting).  The slices also freeze very well so they can be made ahead of time and taken out about half hour before you need them.

Lemon Slices
35-40 Marie Biscuits
½ cup butter
½ can sweetened condensed milk (about ½ cup + 2 tablespoons)
1 cup coconut, divided
Grated rind of 1 lemon

Lemon Icing
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted if lumpy
2 tablespoons softened butter

Remove 2 tablespoons coconut and set aside to sprinkle on top of finished squares.

Using a rolling pin or food processor, crush 35 Marie Biscuits until they are quite fine.  A few larger pieces will be all right.   Place the biscuit crumbs in a large bowl with the coconut and grated lemon rind.  Mix to combine.

In a small saucepan melt the butter and the condensed milk together and stir until thoroughly blended.  Pour the melted butter mixture over the biscuit crumbs and mix until you have a moist crumbly mixture.  The crumbs should squeeze together without crumbling but they should not be wet.  If the mixture is too wet add a few more crushed biscuits.  If it is too dry add a little more condensed milk.

Pack the crumble into a parchment lined 9-inch square pan.  Smooth over the top, pressing down firmly.  Set in refrigerator while making the icing.

Lemon Icing
To make the icing, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice and butter together until a creamy thick consistency is achieved.  A little more lemon juice or icing sugar may have to be used.  I saved a little of the grated lemon rind and added it to the icing for more flavour. 

Spread the Lemon Icing over the crumble base and sprinkle with the reserved coconut.  Set the pan of squares in refrigerator for a couple of hours to set.  When set cut into desired number of squares or bars.  Yields: 16 large squares or 24-36 small squares.  

Preparation Time:  About 30 minutes.

I broke up the Marie biscuits before I placed them in a freezer bag and rolled them into crumbs.  You can use a food processor to do this but then you have to clean it.  

Melt the butter and condensed milk together and add to the crumbs, coconut and lemon rind.  Mix together.  A moist crumb should form.  If too wet, crush a few more biscuits.  If too dry, add a little more condensed milk.  Press into a parchment lined 9-inch square pan.  Chill the base while making the icing.

To make the lemon icing mix the icing sugar, butter and lemon juice together.  Spread over the crumb base and sprinkle with the reserved coconut.  Chill several hours in the refrigerator before cutting into bars or squares.

See how easily the Lemon Slices lift from the pan using the parchment paper as a lifter.

Cut into bars or squares.  
Keep the first row for tasting and serve the remaining slices to family and friends.

 A real treat for any lemon lover!



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