Awesome Vegan Lemon Bars

Posted in baking

I made these a month ago, right after I’d picked up some lovely Meyer lemons from the grocery store. Meyer lemons are not often available here in Ontario, so when I saw them I knew I had to grab a few, even though I had no idea what I was going to make with them.

A quick poll of my twitter friends yielded a few ideas, but in the end I decided to pull out my copy of Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar and make the Vegan Lemon Bar recipe. Actually, it’s the exact same recipe as in Veganomicon, so if you own that, you’ve got a copy. I’ve also reproduced it here. The only change I made was to make the recipe gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour mixture where the all-purpose flour was. Oh, and I also just mixed everything by hand instead of with a food processor as the original recipe states to do. If you’d rather use a food processor, just pulse together all the crust ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, then continue on with the recipe from there.

By the way, if you’re not familiar with agar agar, you can find it at most natural food stores. I found mine at Qi (Bloor/Christie location), for those of you who are in Toronto.

Vegan, Gluten-free lemon bars

Vegan Lemon Bars

1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I used Earth Balance)

1 1/3 cups water
3 tablespoons agar agar flakes
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I needed five lemons for this)
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from two large lemons)
1/4 cup soymilk

Extra powdered or confectioners’ sugar to decorate finished bars

Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan. You might also want to put some parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, as that helps get the bars out when they’re done, but it’s not strictly necessary. Also, don’t start your oven just yet – the cookie crust layer needs to chill for a bit before you bake it.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together your flours, cornstarch and powdered sugar. Then, using a fork or a pastry cutter (aka pastry blender), incorporate in the margarine, a few tablespoons at a time, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then dump the mixture into your prepared pan and press down firmly to form an even layer, with slightly raised sides to hold in the tasty filling you’re about to make. Put that in the fridge and set a timer for 30 minutes. Once your timer goes off, preheat your oven to 350F and when heated, bake the crust for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned. Set this aside to cool, then start on your filling.

In a medium sauce pan, soak the agar agar in the water for 15 minutes. Leave that to soak while you zest your lemons and squeeze as much juice as you can out of them, or until you have 2/3 cup of juice. Mix the arrowroot powder in with the lemon juice until it is fully dissolved.

When the agar has been soaking 15 minutes, put the pot on the stove and bring it to a boil over high heat. Let it boil for 10 minutes, or until the agar is fully dissolved. Then add in the sugar and turmeric and boil 2-3 minutes until dissolved. Then, lower the heat to medium and add the arrowroot/lemon mixture, then the lemon zest and soy milk. Whisk constantly now until the mixture thickens; it should take about 5 minutes or so. What I found was that I had to make sure the mixture stayed at a good simmer (not boiling!) in order for it to thicken enough, so if you find your mixture is cooling too much, turn up the heat just a bit.

Pour the filling mixture into the crust. Let this cool for 20-30 minutes on your counter, then place the pan in the fridge for at least 3 hours. You want the filling to be set – only slightly jiggly, much like Jello.

To serve, cut into squares and sprinkle each square with powdered sugar. Try not to eat the entire pan in one night (it’s hard, I know!).

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