I am so ready for summer. Or at least spring – just something other than the torrential downpours we’ve been experiencing in Vancouver. Citrus makes it easy for me to pretend it’s not raining. These lemon bars are so creamy (thanks, coconut milk!), the crust is moist and crispy, and they’re like a little burst of sunshine.
My mom was impressed, and suggested that I compare this lemon bar recipe to a traditional non-vegan recipe – and I’m going to do just that! So consider this recipe the first part of the show-down, and the traditional lemon bars will be coming up soon.
I’m not a dessert person; that is, I don’t often make desserts, but I do eat them! Lots of them. And so considering my minimal baking experience, this recipe was extremely simple. The only equipment needed was a square baking dish (I don’t currently own one, so I trekked up to Squamish to use my mom’s kitchen) and a high-powered blender. While I used my mom’s blender, you can absolutely use a food processor.
This recipe is not my own, it is Minimalist Baker’s, which is a blog that I turn to frequently for dinner inspiration.
*Note: in the photos, there are only 7 bars – these shots were taken after eating several between my parents and myself!
- 1 cup (120 g) raw cashews
- 1 cup (240 g) coconut cream* (the hardened portion at the top of full fat coconut milk)
- 2 Tbsp (14 g) arrowroot or cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice (~2 large lemons)
- 1 heaping Tbsp (4 g) lemon zest (~1 large lemon)
- Pinch sea salt
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup, plus more to taste
- optional: 2 Tbsp (14 g) organic powdered sugar, for topping
- 1 cup (90 g) gluten free oats
- 1 cup (112 g) almonds
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp (24 g) coconut sugar
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup
- 4-5 Tbsp (60-75 g) coconut oil, melted
- Add raw cashews to a mixing bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let rest for 1 hour (uncovered), then drain thoroughly.
- In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- Add oats, almonds, sea salt, and coconut sugar to a high speed blender and mix on high until a fine meal is achieved.
- Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add maple syrup and melted coconut oil, starting with 4 Tbsp (60 g) and adding more if it’s too dry. Stir with a spoon to combine until a loose dough is formed. You should be able to squeeze the mixture between two fingers and form a dough instead of it crumbling. If too dry, add a bit more melted coconut oil.
- Transfer mixture to parchment-lined baking sheet and spread evenly. Then place parchment paper on top and use a flat-bottomed object, such as a drinking glass, to press down firmly until it’s evenly distributed and well packed.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then increase heat to 375 F (190 C) and bake for 5-8 minutes more, or until the edges are golden brown and there is some browning on the surface. Remove from oven to cool slightly, then reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F (176 C).
- Once cashews are soaked and drained, add to a high speed blender with coconut cream, arrowroot starch, lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt, and maple syrup. Mix on high until very creamy and smooth.
- Taste and adjust flavor as needed. I added a bit more lemon zest and maple syrup. It should be very lemony, and not overly sweet.
- Pour filling over the pre-baked crust and spread into an even layer. Tap on counter to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the edges look very slightly dry and the center appears “giggly” but not liquidy.
- Let rest for 10 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator to let cool completely (uncovered) – at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- To serve, slice and sift with powdered sugar (optional). Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, up to 4 days, though best within the first 2 days.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 of 9 bars without organic powdered sugar.
*Crust adapted from my Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Bars.