These Lemon Cloud Squares are light, fluffy, and lemony. They're easy to make (no boxed Jello required) and are the perfect light dessert.
So remember when I made Homemade Lemon Jello a few weeks ago? It turns out that I did it for a specific reason. My end goal was actually to make these Lemon Cloud Squares, but all the recipes online called for a box of lemon jello, and I couldn't find lemon jello anywhere!
So I decided to make my own recipe without the box of lemon jello, but I needed to figure out how to make homemade lemon jello first. Anyway, it all came together, and I did end up making these light and fluffy lemon cloud squares. I love how they turned out!
I vaguely remember my mom making something like this when I was a kid, but I have no idea if the recipe she used was similar to this or not. One time she used Oreo crumbs instead of graham crumbs for the crust, and we liked it so much that she always used them from that point. But I'm a huge fan of graham crust and didn't want to stray from that.
When I was reading through various recipes online, I was shocked to discover that they all used whipped evaporated milk to make these squares so light and fluffy. I for one, have never tried whipping evaporated milk and had no idea that it was even possible. As it turns out, it is possible, but the evaporated milk must be very cold to do so.
How to make Lemon Cloud Squares:
The first thing you need to do when you plan to make these squares is to put a can of evaporated milk into the fridge. This is necessary to get the milk to whip up to a fluffy, whipped cream-like texture (without the added fat). Leave the can there at least for a couple of hours, or overnight. Keep it there right until the moment you're going to open the can and start whipping it.
It's also helpful to put a bowl in the freezer when you start the recipe to make sure it's nice and cold. This doesn't work very well for plastic bowls. If you're using a stand mixer to whip the milk, go ahead and put your stand mixer bowl right into the freezer.
Now to start making the graham crust. You can use a food processor to grind the graham crackers into fine crumbs, or you can put the crackers into a large zipper back and crush them with a rolling pin. Or simply buy graham crumbs instead.
The graham crust is the only part of this recipe that needs to be baked. But only for a few minutes. Make sure to let it cool completely before adding the filling.
The next step is to mix up the lemon part of the recipe, which is where that lemon jello recipe from a few weeks ago comes in. The big difference this time is that we're not going to let it set completely. Make sure not to get distracted at leave it in the fridge for too long.
Now for the fun part - whipping up the evaporated milk. Did you have any idea you could do this? It blew my mind a little bit.
Then simply mix the lemon jello part into the whipped evaporated milk, spread the whole thing over the now-cooled graham crust, and put the whole thing in the fridge.
In just a couple of short hours, you'll be eating a light, fluffy, lemon-flavored dessert.
Lemon Cloud Squares Ingredients:
- Graham crackers (use gluten-free graham crackers to make this recipe gluten-free)
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Canned evaporated milk (it must be chilled in the fridge overnight before whipping)
- Unflavored gelatin powder (Find it in the baking aisle - usually near the flavored gelatin boxes. It's available in packets or larger containers).
- Water (whatever you normally drink - tap water is fine)
- Lemon zest
- Lemon juice from three lemons
- yellow food coloring (This is optional. Use it if you want your squares to be a brighter yellow, otherwise they will be a very pale yellow like mine in the photos).
Want more Lemon Desserts?
Lemon Cloud Squares Nutrition Notes:
Because the evaporated milk is lower in fat than whipped cream, and because there is a lot of air whipped into this dessert, it is a low-calorie dessert.
Use gluten-free graham crackers or graham crumbs to make this recipe gluten-free.
Keep in mind that because gelatin is made from animal products, it is not considered vegetarian.
Lemon Cloud Squares
Graham Cracker Crust
- 12 whole graham crackers broken into pieces (use gluten-free graham crackers to make this recipe gluten-free)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- Place the can of evaporated milk in the fridge to chill for at least two hours or overnight. Keep it there right up until you're ready to start whipping it.
- Place a large metal or glass bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer in the fridge or freezer to chill.
Graham Cracker Crust
- Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F.
- Pulse the 12 whole graham crackers together in a food processor until they form fine crumbs. Alternatively, place the crackers in a 1-gallon freezer bag and roll over them with a rolling pin. Measure out ¼ cup of the crumbs and set aside in a small bowl.
- Transfer the remaining crumbs to a medium bowl. Stir in the ¼ cup unsalted butter, 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1 pinch salt until the mixture resembles wet sand. Press the graham crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan. Bake until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Turn off the oven, and cool the crust completely.
- Using a microplane or lemon zester, zest one of the lemons (you should have about 1 teaspoon of zest). Juice the lemons and measure out ½ cup of lemon juice. Mix the lemon juice and zest together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.
- Pour ½ cup of cold water into a medium bowl. Sprinkle the 2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin powder over the top of the water and allow it to hydrate for about 5 minutes.
- Heat the remaining ½ cup of water in the microwave on high heat until hot and steaming, about 1 minute. Pour the hot water over the gelatin, and stir until dissolved. Stir the ¾ cup granulated sugar into the gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice mixture.
- Place the bowl of the lemon gelatin mixture in the fridge until it starts to cool, and just starts to thicken, about 20-30 minutes. Make sure to check on it, and stir it often to ensure that it doesn't fully set.
- Meanwhile, pour the chilled evaporated milk into the chilled bowl. Mix on high speed until soft peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Fold the semi-set gelatin mixture into the whipped evaporated milk. Mix on medium-high speed until fully mixed and stiff peaks form, about 1-2 minutes.
- Gently spread the whipped lemon mixture over the graham cracker crust in the baking pan. Sprinkle with the remaining graham crumbs, then cover carefully with plastic. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Cut into pieces, and serve.