Vegan Meyer Lemon Bars

by Kris on April 20, 2012

I thought I would end the week with a sweet dessert. I wanted to make a maple pie for you all, but it seems nobody in my family has my grandmother’s recipe! Hopefully it will turn up in someone’s kitchen so I can give it a try. Until then, I made you some vegan lemon squares.

The crust in most lemon square recipes comprises of a lot of butter, flour and powdered sugar. I wanted to make a lighter and healthier version of this classic recipe so I started from scratch. For the flour base, I used a combination of rolled oats, almond meal and coconut flour. If you want to make them gluten free, replace the old fashioned oats with a gluten free variety of oats. I used a small amount of brown sugar to sweeten the crust, but feel free to use any sweetener of your choice. To bind it all together I used dried figs and coconut oil. The figs naturally added additional sweetness.

For the lemon filling I used a combination of cashew cream, almond milk and water. I like my lemon squares tart, so I added a substantial amount of lemon juice and zest. If you prefer yours a little less tart, omit or use half the lemon zest. I sweetened the mixture with some agave nectar and used agar agar to solidify the filling.

I really enjoyed the crust on these bars. It was sweet and tender which perfectly complemented the tartness of the lemon filling.

I also have some exciting news to share. Two of my photographs have been purchased by NYLO Hotels to be on permanent display in their new South Side location in Dallas!  One of those photos came in fourth place in their nation wide art competition and will be displayed in the hotel lobby’s front corridor. The hotel opens this July and will include an opening night gala. If you would like to see my photography on display and you’re in the Dallas area, stay tuned for more details.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Vegan Meyer Lemon Squares
Crust:

  • 2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats (or gluten free rolled oats)
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. lemon zest
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 10 preserved figs
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil (or vegan margarine)

Lemon filling:

  • ¼ cup cashew cream
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. agar agar flakes
  • ½ tsp. lemon zest
  • ¾ cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. turmeric (optional, just for color)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 4 tbsp. agave nectar

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine oats, almond meal and coconut flour. Pulse until oats are fully ground and the mixture resembles flour, about one minute.

Add brown sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract to the mixture and pulse until well combined. Leaving the food processor running, add one fig at a time through the shoot until all figs have been fully incorporated and the mixture begins to come together.

Add coconut oil (or vegan margarine) through the shoot while the food processor is running and blend for about 30 seconds.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press down firmly to evenly distribute the crust. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Once the crust has cooled, begin preparing the lemon filling.

Combine cashew cream, almond milk and water in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle the liquid with agar flakes and allow it to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Add lemon zest, lemon juice, turmeric, vanilla extract and agave nectar to the pot, stirring well to combine. Bring the liquid to a slow boil over medium heat. Once the liquid begins to boil, set a timer for 10 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure the agar flakes do not stick to the edges of the pot.

After 10 minutes remove from heat and pour liquid over the prepared crust. Place the pan in the fridge for one hour to set. Once the filling has set, slice into squares.

Serve cold and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Yield 9-12 lemon squares

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

ea stewart April 20, 2012 at 9:04 am

I am dying to make these lemon bars with the Meyer’s lemons on my tree. Fabulous! And, congratulations on your photos being purchased-how exciting! I used to live in the Dallas area {two different times}, and get back occasionally to visit friends. Can’t wait to make these bars!

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Kris April 20, 2012 at 10:28 am

Thank you! I still can’t believe I even placed in the competition. I can’t wait until NYLO opens and I can see all the other work that’s on display. If you’re in the Dallas area this summer you should come visit the new hotel. :) On a separate note, I’m kinda jealous you have a meyer lemon tree.

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lysa April 21, 2012 at 7:06 am

These lemon bars are so beautiful and look so delicious!!

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Kris April 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Thanks Lysa!

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Cookie and Kate April 21, 2012 at 9:10 am

This is so genius, Kris! I wondered if curd could possibly be made vegan. Your crust sounds like it would taste better than regular all-purpose flour and butter crusts, too! Big congrats about your photo. I don’t know when I’ll be in Dallas next, but I’ll try get in touch when I’m in town. I’d love to see it (and meet you)!

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Kris April 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Thanks Kate! I love the crust on these bars. I’m planning on making some fruit crumble bars with the same crust soon. I’ll decide on the fruit next time I’m at the farmer’s market. Maybe strawberry since it’s almost that time!

Thanks, I’m so excited about even placing in the competition. It would be so great to meet you! I often camp up in Oklahoma so maybe next time I’ll make a detour to Norman. That is if you don’t mind hanging out with someone who reeks of campfire and bug spray. haha.

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Courtney Rae Jones April 21, 2012 at 11:04 am

This looks phenomenal! :) YUM! I’ve been wanting to try and make a vegan curd of some sort, but was a little apprehensive to use agar flakes. Looks like the agar flakes worked great, as the lemon curd looks fantastic. The crust sounds great too!

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Kris April 21, 2012 at 8:09 pm

The consistency is a little different than a traditional lemon curd made with egg yolks, but the flavor is spot on. It was something on my list to do for months but I wasn’t inspired to make it until I picked up some gorgeous meyer lemons at the farmer’s market. I really like your blog, Courtney! I can’t wait to try your grilled cheese. Thanks for stopping by!

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Lovlie April 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Nice recipe! I will definitely try this. I’m trying to make up my mind what to bake for our coming Vegan Bake Sale in Ireland over here. So I’m looking for some inspiration. :) Congrats for the purchase of your photos! That must be a very rewarding experience. :)

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Kris April 21, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Oh that’s so fun! I’ve been wanting to organize a bake sale, I’ve just been too busy to get around to it yet. Hopefully I can get myself organized soon. Thank you Teenuja! I’m very excited about the opportunity. :)

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Amy @ FragrantVanillaCake April 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I love lemon bars, but haven’t had any in a while…this healthified version I would love to try! They sound amazing! Love this :)!

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Kris April 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Amy! I was craving lemon bars so bad but didn’t want to consume so much sugar. I feel a little less guilty eating these ones. I just checked out your blog and I love your vegan beet and green garlic tart! So many tart recipes I see are full of cheese, it’s nice to see a vegan variety. :)

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Kristal April 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

These are AMAZING! I am not a vegan but would prefer these delicious lemon bars over traditional lemon bars any day. I love the fantastic tart lemon flavor. I brought the batch to work and everyone raved about them. Thank you for the recipe!

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Kris May 1, 2012 at 10:33 am

You’ve made my day Kristal! So glad everyone enjoyed them. Who says healthy vegan desserts aren’t yummy?! lol

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Kristy May 13, 2012 at 12:05 am

It has been FOREVER since I’ve had a really good lemon bar- these will definitely be making an appearance in my kitchen!

Congrats on your photos being bought! You must be ecstatic! Heck, I’m excited for you!

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Nancy July 9, 2012 at 11:32 pm

I have searched high and low for this recipe for my elimination diet I’m trying out. I have to eliminate cashews and almonds, though, so what do you think can be substituted that is not a tree nut for the coconut cream and the almond meal? I have a lot of gfcf flours. Do you think perhaps 1/4C buckwheat and 1/4C quinoa would do it? Does the cream have to be cream or will any dairy free milk do the job? I have a coconut creamer for coffee by So Delicious. Would that do? Or a nice thick coconut milk? Thanks for any input you may have!

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Kris July 10, 2012 at 6:40 am

I’m not sure how the gluten free flours would work. Can you eat seeds? Maybe replacing the almond meal with roughly ground pumpkin seeds would work? You could replace the cashew cream with coconut milk, although it will give the bars a coconut flavor. In terms of texture just make sure it is thick coconut milk. Let me know how it turns out with these substitutions!

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