The first step to any great recipe is fresh ingredients, so "Good Morning America" asked Sprouts Farmers Market for expert advice to pick the best lemons possible.
"When shopping for lemons to use in dessert recipes, look for a deep yellow color, which means the lemon is ripe. If a lemon is heavy and has a little bit of give when you squeeze it lightly, that means they’re the juiciest of the bunch and will be easier to juice when you use them in baking," an expert from Sprouts told "GMA."
Lisbon Lemons are most common at grocery stores, but other grocers and farmers markets also carry Meyer Lemons, which are smaller and more orange in color and have a slightly sweeter taste.
Check out a few lemon-filled desserts below.
Citrus Bunny Ears
In celebration of Easter and citrus season, Sprouts Farmers Market and chef Claudia Sandoval, who is also the judge of Food Network’s Easter Basket Challenge, created these naturally indulgent, family-friendly treats packed with zesty lemon.
Makes: 8 Servings
For the Bunny Ears:
1 sheet puff pastry (thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (one lemon)
Yellow food coloring (optional)
For Candied Lemon:1 Lemon
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar, +1/2 cup for finish
2 cups of white chocolate
1/4 cup sanding sugar
Candied Lemon Slices (recipe below)
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
To Candy Lemon Slices: In a saucepan on medium-low heat, melt sugar into the water. Slice lemon into 4 even round slices and then cut in half crosswise to create 8 half-moons. Boil in simple syrup for 6-10 minutes or until white pith in lemon becomes translucent. Using a slotted spoon, strain from simple syrup and toss in remaining granulated sugar. Place on parchment or wax paper and allow to cool overnight.
To Prepare Puff Pastry: In a bowl, mix granulated sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and food coloring until obtaining an aromatic sugar mixture.
On a floured surface, unfold puff pastry with the rectangle horizontal. Sprinkle with sugar mixture evenly. Begin by folding the left side about ¼ of the way in. Then fold again another ¼ of the way to almost reach the center. Repeat on the other side. Fold one side over the other and rotate until horizontal again. Slice into 8 even slices.
On a parchment-lined cookie sheet, place cut side up and separate down the middle to create a small “V” shape. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.
To Decorate: Melt white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second increments. Dip Bunny Ears to preference and decorate with sanding sugars and candied lemon slices. Enjoy!
Lemon Curd Coconut Macaroon Nests
5 cups organic shredded coconut
1 14 ounce can organic sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (one lemon)
1/4 cup Wholesome organic powdered Sugar
2 egg whites (60g)
Small pinch of salt
For Lemon Curd:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon zest (one lemon)
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup Jordan almonds
1/2 cup lemon curd (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To Make Lemon Curd: In a saucepan on super low heat, add all ingredients and whisk vigorously until well combined. Cook on low heat, whisking continuously and until curd thickens and can hold the shape of the whisks in the curd. Strain thru a fine mesh sieve to remove any curdling. Cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To Prepare Macaroons: In a bowl, combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, powdered sugar and salt.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks. Fold into the coconut mixture, keeping as much of egg white fluff as possible. Scoop 3 oz. ice cream scoops onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Create a small nest like compression at the center of each scoop with a spoon. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool completely.
To Decorate: Scoop lemon curd into the center of macaroon nests and decorate with Jordan Almonds from the bulk foods section. Enjoy!
Above two recipes reprinted courtesy of Chef Claudia Sandoval and Sprouts Farmers Market.
Amy Traverso shared her recipe for the crisp/cake hybrid that bursts with lemon and raspberry.
For the Cake
8 tablespoons salted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, at room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (if frozen, do not thaw)
For the Topping
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into small cubes, plus more for greasing pan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack to the middle position. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan (or equivalent).
In a small bowl, use a fork to stir together the brown sugar, flour, pecans (if using) and cinnamon. Scatter the cold butter all over and use a pastry cutter or fork to work in until the mixture looks like wet sand and the largest pieces are pea-size. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Using a standing or handheld mixer with a whisk attachment, cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until the mixture is fluffy and has a very pale texture, about 4 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a third bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix briefly, then add half the buttermilk-egg blend and mix again. Repeat, adding another third of the flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk-egg mixture, then finish with the remaining third of the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Stir in the lemon zest.
Spread the batter evenly into the baking pan (it will be quite thick). Sprinkle the raspberries over the batter. Sprinkle the crumble topping overall.
Bake until the top is golden and the sides are just beginning to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then serve warm from the pan.
This twist on an easy, classic lemon dessert gives this treat a beautiful blush color.
For the shortbread crust
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling
3/4 pound (6–10 stalks, depending on size) red rhubarb, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and set a rack to the middle position. Grease the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, then line with a piece of parchment paper that’s long enough to drape over the sides of the pan.
In a large bowl, use a handheld or stand mixer on low speed to combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt until they come together as a dough. Press this evenly into the bottom of the baking pan, then bake until it’s just beginning to turn golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a 3- or 4-quart pot, combine the chopped rhubarb with the water and 1/3 cup sugar. Set over medium-high heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is completely broken down, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Use an immersion or standing blender to completely purée the rhubarb, then add the remaining 2/3 cup sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks. Once the rhubarb purée is cool enough to touch, add it to the eggs and whisk to combine, then stir in the flour until smooth.
Pour the topping over the shortbread crust and bake until it’s set and barely beginning to turn golden at the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then chill, uncovered, for at least 3 hours.
Run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen the slab, then lift it out in one piece and cut into equal squares. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.