Lemon Mardi Gras Squares, 1953 – A Vintage Recipe Test

Posted on Feb 28 2017 - 4:18am by RetroRuth

Happy Fat Tuesday! This week we are going to celebrate Mardi Gras, and our return to health after a horrible, 10-day flu, with some lemon bars.


These are Lemon Mardi Gras Squares!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Lemon Mardi Gras Squares
Serves: 2 dozen bars
  • 1½ cups sifted flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons grated lemon rind (basically, the juice and rind of two medium lemons)
  • ½ cup plus ¼ cup pecans, chopped
  • For Frosting:
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cream
  1. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
  2. Cream butter and granulated sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Beat for one minute.
  3. Add lemon juice alternately with dry ingredients, beginning and ending with dry and blending thoroughly after each addition. Add lemon rind and ½ cup pecans.
  4. Beat the egg whites until soft mounds begin to form. Add in confectioner's sugar slowly, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until egg whites are stiff - straight peaks are formed when the beater is raised.
  5. Gently but thoroughly fold egg whites into lemon batter. Pour into well-greased and lightly floured 13x9 inch pan.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-27 minutes. While still warm, frost. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.
  7. Frosting:
  8. Cream butter and blend in confectioner's sugar alternately with cream. Beat until creamy.

Lemon Mardi Gras Squares001mardi gras lemon squares002

Like many, many recipes that pop up on here, I started out discovering this recipe as a recipe clipping included with a recipe collection from Texas. It was included in a booklet put out by the cooking demonstrator for a local grocery store in the 1960’s.


A very small amount of research yielded the fact that this recipe was, once again, from the Pillsbury Bake-Off. The 4th Bake-Off, to be precise.  I’ve been doing quite a few of these Bake-Off recipes lately, but this recipe was unique enough that I decided I didn’t care, and dove in.


And this is a good illustration of the fun part. This is a bar cookie recipe, but requires a meringue to be folded in as the last step.

In a side note, this recipe is still available on the Pillsbury site, but they have simplified the instructions and eliminated the meringue step. Which kind of takes all of fun out of it, if you ask me. And probably drastically changes the final product as well.


There! All folded in and pretty.


All finished and delicious. Oh, and my bars were completely baked at 20 minutes, so make sure you start checking them early! IMG_6453

This recipe makes a really, really thin layer of frosting for the top.  Almost like a glaze. So make sure you take their advice and spread it on while the bars are still a bit warm. It really helps to get complete frosting coverage on the bars.


Ready to eat!


The fancy finger.


“So, good?”

“Yep. Very lemon-y. I like them.”

The Verdict: Very Lemon-y

From The Tasting Notes –

These bars were very good, as was to be expected from a Bake-Off offering. The texture was easily the best, and most unique, part. The first day the bars were a bit on the crumbly side, but by the second day they were pleasantly moist. (So, plan accordingly and try to make these a day ahead of when you will need them.) They had a good crumb, and when you bit into them they had a lovely, melting dissolve on the tongue. Much like biting into the center of a meringue cookie. But they still managed to have a cake-like texture as well. The lemon flavor was strong, but not overpowering. They tasted like lemon pie in cake form. People who hate the jelly/slime texture that most lemon baked goods have, take note of these as they have none of that but still retain that lemon pie/bar flavor. The thin layer of frosting was also a good addition that kept them from being too much of a good thing. Overall, we really enjoyed these.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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5 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Ann February 28, 2017 at 7:51 am - Reply

    These look tasty. I wonder why they are “Mardi Gras” specifically?!

    • Erik Stutzman March 1, 2017 at 7:54 am - Reply

      I would guess due to all the rich ingredients that are given up for Lent, sort of like the Polish Pączki often found in the Midwest.

  2. Lassie March 1, 2017 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I adore lemon bars. The bakery at the grocery store sells them two for $6! These look different, can’t wait to give them a try. I can’t eat much chocolate any more, so am trying hard to ‘buddy up’ to lemon desserts, lol.

  3. mysweetiepiepie March 3, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

    I’m definitely going to give these a try, probably in a smaller pan to get a slightly thicker finished product – we’ll see how it goes :+)

  4. Mary May 9, 2017 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    These have been a family favorite for 40 years. I remember learning how to make meringue just to make them. Wonderful things! (in fact, I had to track down a copy of 1959 Best of the Bake Off just for this recipe!)

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