Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Vegan Meyer Lemon Bars

My lemon tree suffered greatly over the summer (our drip irrigation wasn’t working properly), so I had no home-grown Meyer lemons this year. The good news is that the tree roots were healthy and seem to be growing a new plant, so I might have Meyer lemons again in the future, maybe even next season (though I won’t push it). I didn’t want to miss out on citrus season, though, so the Engineer bought a package of Meyer lemons at the grocery store (there were something like 8 in a clamshell box). I started by making Meyer lemon and Italian meringue verrines, but that was a fail. The yield was ridiculously small, the meringue never whipped up properly, and it was no more than alright (though the Little Prince flat out refused to eat it). Then I made buttermilk vanilla cupcakes with Meyer lemon glaze, but the cupcake recipe didn’t work (there were craters in the cakes, not domes) and the glaze was only, for lack of a better word, adequate. Neither recipe is one I’d make again.

Luckily, I still had some lemons after that, so I tried these vegan Meyer lemon bars from Sift and Whisk. I was a bit nervous, because I don’t think I’d ever made vegan lemon bars before (unless you count this tart that the Engineer didn’t like), but the recipe totally worked! It was a hit for everyone in our household. The eggs are replaced with tofu in this recipe, and turmeric is added to get that bright yellow color (I actually added a bit too much, but it came out fine). The result was delicious!

For the crust
½ cup (110 g.) vegan butter, at room temperature (I use Earth Balance sticks)
¼ cup (30 g.) confectioners' sugar
1 cup (120 g.) all-purpose flour

For the filling
1 cup (200 g.) granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. lemon zest, from about 4 Meyer lemons
1 cup (240 g.) firm silken tofu
½ cup fresh lemon juice, from about 4 Meyer lemons
2 Tbsp. (15 g.) all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. (15 g.) tapioca starch
⅛ tsp. turmeric, for color
confectioners' sugar, sifted (optional, for serving)

For the crust
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan. Set aside.

Cream together vegan butter and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the flour, and beat until the dough begins to clump together.

Turn out the dough into your greased baking pan and press evenly into the bottom. Poke a few holes in the top of the dough with a fork, then bake for about 20 minutes, or until the crust is light brown in color. Move to a wire rack and allow to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling
In a food processor, combine sugar and lemon zest and process until the sugar is yellow and fragrant. (This releases the oils from the lemon zest and will make the final lemon bars more flavorful, so don’t skip this step!) Add the tofu and process until smooth. Add lemon juice, flour, tapioca starch, and turmeric and process to combine.

Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the filling is mostly set (it may still be a little wiggly in the center). Cool completely on a wire rack, then transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour.

Slice the bars into even portions (the original recipe said 8 or 16 servings, but in my house, an 8-inch square pans turns out 9 servings, period). Right before serving, dust the tops of the lemon bars with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

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