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My Favorite Lemon Bars (Vegan & Gluten-Free!)

Summer is the perfect time to experiment with refreshing desserts, and if you’re anything like me—always on the hunt for that perfect lemony bite—you’re in for a treat. Meet your new favorite dessert: vegan and gluten-free lemon bars that don’t skimp on taste. These bars are a testament to how indulgent healthy treats can really be.

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw organic cashews
  • 1 cup organic coconut cream
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (2 large lemons’ worth)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp lemon zest (about 1 large lemon’s worth)
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp organic powdered sugar (optional, for topping and serving bars)
  • Small pinch of turmeric (for color)

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic gluten-free oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 T coconut sugar
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 4-5 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

Directions

  1. Add raw cashews to a mixing bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let rest for 1 hour (uncovered). Then drain thoroughly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×9 square baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Add oats, almonds, sea salt, and coconut sugar to a high speed blender and mix on high until a fine meal is achieved.
  4. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add maple syrup and melted coconut oil, starting with half of what the recipe calls for, and adding more if it’s too dry. Stir with a spoon to combine until a loose dough is formed. (You should be able to squeeze the mixture between two fingers and form a dough instead of it crumbling. If too dry, add a bit more melted coconut oil.)
  5. Transfer mixture to parchment-lined baking pan and spread evenly. Then place parchment paper on top and use a flat-bottomed object, like a drinking glass, to press down firmly until it’s evenly distributed and well packed.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then increase heat to 375 F and bake for 5-8 minutes more, or until the edges are golden brown and there is some browning on the surface. Remove from oven to cool slightly, then reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.
  7. Once cashews are soaked and drained, add to a high speed blender with coconut cream, arrowroot starch, lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt, maple syrup, and turmeric. Mix on high until very creamy and smooth.
  8. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. I added a bit more lemon zest and maple syrup. It should be very lemony, and not overly sweet.
  9. Pour filling over the pre-baked crust and spread into an even layer. Lightly tap on counter to remove any air bubbles.
  10. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the edges look very slightly dry and the center appears “jiggly” but not liquidy.
  11. Let rest for 10 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator to let cool completely (uncovered) – at least 4 hours, but I let mine set overnight for the best results.
  12. To serve, slice and sift with powdered sugar (optional). Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, up to 4 days, though best within the first 2 days.

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