Wintertime in Los Angeles means an abundance of lemons at the Hollywood farmer’s market (today I got 12 of them for $2!). There are big sour ones, small sweet ones, those incomparable Meyer lemons…yumm! They're so deliciously hard to resist! We even have pink lemons growing in our yard that are also out of this world—but we eat them so fast we have to supplement with organic ones from the market.
At this lemony time of year, I add fresh lemon juice to virtually everything. (A helpful tip I've found really useful if you have an abundance of lemons is to juice them and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Then you can defrost and use as needed. Once frozen, transfer cubes out of trays into bags or containers to keep them fresh.)
If you've got more lemons than you know what to do with, why not give this recipe for vegan lemon squares a try? They're a most wonderful treat if you're entertaining, and they make a delicious gift, too.
This recipe is not gluten-free, but you can adapt the crust to your favorite gluten-free options. And a note on powdered sugar…there really is no substitute, unfortunately, save not using sugar at all and that would ruin the recipe. I generally only make these once a year because they are so sugary…and that tends to satisfy me for quite a while (my boyfriend's sweet tooth, however, is another story). You can get organic powdered sugar from your local health-minded supermarket, which is healthier than the conventional stuff. And remember, everything in moderation (especially moderation!). Enjoy!
1¾ cup whole wheat flour ½ cup powdered sugar ¼ cup organic corn starch ¼ cup turbinado sugar 1 cup coconut oil
1¼ cups water
3 tablespoons agar agar flakes
1¼ cups turbinado sugar
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup almond milk (or your favorite nondairy milk)
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder, corn starch or tapioca flour
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (about 2–3 large lemons worth)
2 strands saffron (for color. You can also use a pinch or two of turmeric or nothing at all).
Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
In a food processor, combine dry ingredients, slowly adding the coconut oil. It should be at room temperature but still slightly solid so that when you add to the dry ingredients it forms a crumbly mixture.
Grease a 9x13 baking pan and pour the crust mixture in, gently pressing into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake uncovered for 20–25 minutes. Let cool while you prepare the filling.
Let the agar flakes soak in the water for 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the arrowroot into the lemon juice and whisk together so the arrowroot dissolves. In a medium saucepan, heat agar and water to slow boil, simmering about ten minutes or until agar is dissolved. Add in sugar and stir frequently so to avoid any scorching on the bottom of the pan. Add in lemon/arrowroot mixture. Then add the saffron, zest, and almond milk, whisking constantly as the mixture thickens (think gravy).
Once the mixture is bubbling and thick, turn off heat and pour the mixture into the crust. Let it cool on the counter for 45 minutes before refrigerating. It's best when refrigerated for at least 5 hours or overnight. You can top with sprinkled powdered sugar or make a cashew whipped cream to serve atop.
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