Vegan Meyer Lemon Bars

Happy New Year! As we enter 2014, everyone starts out making their resolutions. What are yours?

I don’t usually make any per se, but I would love to continue from last year’s momentum, eating healthy, keeping in shape, and feeling good. You can start any time, and you don’t need a New Year’s resolution to keep a goal. Maybe this recipe can help to start cutting out those bad sugars, and introducing more unrefined and natural sugars, as well as healthier fats.

I love lemon bars. I was never a fan of citrus-based desserts, but lemon bars have always been a weakness of mine. Meyer lemons tend to not be as tart as regular lemons, and are perfect to use in baked goods. I drew inspiration from another food blog I follow, called Tasty Yummies, to create a vegan version of the Meyer lemon bars.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup quick oats   *see note
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour    *see note
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt

Lemon filling

  • 1 whole Meyer lemon, washed (yes, the whole lemon!)   *see note
  • 1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice (~2 more Meyer lemons)
  • 3-5 tbsp maple syrup   *see note
  • 1 cup silken tofu, pureed   *see note
  • 4 tsp tapioca starch (or arrowroot or corn starch)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted
  • Shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) or powdered sugar to top (optional)

———

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper. In a food processor or grinder, process the almonds until you get a fine meal. Add the oats and flour, and pulse a few more seconds. If using almond meal, just mix quick oats, flour, and meal together. Pour into bowl and mix the rest of the crust ingredients. You should have a crumbly mixture. Press mixture into bottom of the pan, ensuring that it reaches the corners evenly. Place in the preheated oven, and bake crust for 15-20 minutes or until golden colour.

While crust is baking, cut the whole lemon into chunks and seed it. Place these chunks into the food processor (or blender) along with the additional lemon juice and maple syrup. You may need a proper food processor for this, because the first time I made this, I was working with my mom’s more than 20 year old food processor with duller blades and no lid seal that splattered everywhere and made a huge mess. Thankfully I replaced it with a new KitchenAid processor, which does the work much faster! Process until the lemon has completely broken up.

After processing the whole lemon, additional juice, and sweetener
After processing the whole lemon, additional juice, and sweetener

Taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness to your liking accordingly and depending on the tartness of the lemons.  Add the silken tofu, tapioca starch, salt, and melted coconut oil and blend until smooth. It’s okay if there are tiny lemon pieces still. At this point, it wasn’t as yellow as I wanted it to be because of the tofu, so I added a few drops of yellow food colouring, though this is completely optional.

Once the crust has come out of the oven, lower the temperature to 300 degrees F. Pour the lemon filling over the crust and place in oven to bake for 25-30 minutes, or just until the filling is no longer jiggling and has barely set. Mine was perfect at 30 minutes.

Remove the bars from the oven and let cool completely. Once cool, carefully lift out the bars from the pan, and cut bars into squares. Add shredded coconut or sift powdered sugar over top before serving, if using. As a note, powdered sugar does tend to melt over time, so this should be done just before serving.

These can be stored in the fridge for more than a week. Enjoy!

Notes

  • You’re welcome to just use 1 and 1/2 cup of almond meal and omit the oats and flour (to make grain-free), but I like adding the oats for more flavour to the crust and flour to prevent it from becoming soggy over time. If you plan to use raw almonds, 1 cup of almonds that I processed came to about 1 and 1/4 cup of almond meal. Make sure you don’t process too long, or you will start releasing the oils, and you’ll be on your way to making almond butter!
  • I am sure using a gluten-free all-purpose flour would work if you are gluten intolerant (though I have not tested this), or you could replace the flour with more almond meal or oats (if they are gluten-free!).
  • You are more than welcome to use a regular lemon, but be sure to increase the sweetener.
  • The amount of sweetener you use depends on the tartness of the lemons and how sweet (or tart) you want them to be. Do a taste test to make sure!
  • If you aren’t vegan, you are definitely allowed to use 4 eggs to replace the silken tofu (as per the original recipe in the link calls — which is paleo!), and the yolks definitely give more of a yellow colour.
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