VEGAN MEYER LEMON BARS

Have you ever wondered what exactly a Meyer lemon is?

Besides noticing that they fill up the produce aisles in late winter with their vibrant yellowish orange color, I didn’t know much about them.  So, being forever curious, I decided to do a little research. Meyer lemons, it turns out, are native to China and are thought to be a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange that are deep in color and flavor. Sweeter than regular lemons, some people will eat Meyer lemons by the slice.

And, most interesting of all, the fruit was introduced to the United States in 1908 – the last year the Cubs won the World Series for the next 108 years making it the longest drought in American Sports History, to be finally broken November 3 2016 in one of the most epic games in world series history.

Today I am not only talking about Meyer lemons and Cubs baseball, however. It gets even better. I know, hard to imagine.

But wait for it…

With my lemons I made these vegan Lemon Bars for a sweet and tart, easy vegan dessert that celebrates these last winter days and the spring that is almost here.

For these vegan Lemon Bars I used silken tofu for the lemon curd base. There are lots of ways to make a plant-based custard and rarely do I go the tofu route but in this recipe silken tofu is the perfect custardy texture. It’s also a pretty fool-proof method for vegan custards, no experience necessary! Plus tofu has no strong flavor, soaking up the citrus and sweet of these bars and making these the classic lemon bars we all know and love.

Please note: make sure you are buying extra firm SILKEN tofu for this recipe. I made that mistake the first time I used tofu in a dessert and it was not a good pumpkin pie. 

VEGAN LEMON BARS

SHORTBREAD CRUST
  1. 1/2 cup vegan butter
  2. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  4. 1 cup all-purpose flour
MEYER LEMON CURD
  1. 1 package (12 oz) extra firm silken tofu, liquid drained
  2. 1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
  3. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  6. 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
TO MAKE THE CRUST
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together until smooth and creamy. Add flour and mix until well incorporated.
  3. Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes until light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes.
TO MAKE THE LEMON CURD
  1. In a food processor combine tofu, lemon juice, zest, and granulated sugar and process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla extract and process again until combined.
  3. Pour into cooled crust and bake for another 25-30 minutes until lemon curd has set.
  4. Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes and then place in the refrigerator to cool all the way.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar or candied lemon slices just before serving.

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