I think one of the hardest things to do when you change the way you eat is to stop indulging in your memory of the foods you used to enjoy. It’s hard to convince the brain that the sugar/dairy/meat-laden dish once inhaled without second thought will now cause your body to launch a revolt.
I have a few food memories that are hard to short circuit. One of them is of the lemon squares my husband whipped up one dreary afternoon – made with extra lemon juice. I almost swoon at the memory.
Tempting as it is to consider making a conventional batch of lemon squares to satisfy my lemon cravings, the sugar content alone scratches it off the list. You can read a little about my decision to cut back on sugar here.
Thankfully, the plant-based, low sugar lemon curd recipe I posted earlier this month is an excellent substitute for the traditional lemon square filling. It’s complemented by a gluten free, coconut crust, inspired by this recipe. And the icing sugar? It’s actually a dusting of coconut flour.
lemon squares (vegan, low sugar, gluten free)
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 15-17 minutes
Serves: 16 squares
for the Crust & Topping
- 1 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1 c. almond flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 scoop 100% pure stevia
- ¼ c. melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp. coconut nectar or agave
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- Coconut flour (for dusting)
for the Filling
- ¾ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Zest from one organic lemon (optional)
- ½ c. white grape juice
- 3 T coconut nectar or agave
- 2 scoops 100% pure stevia
- 5 T organic cornstarch
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 T vegan butter
- Cream from 1 can full fat coconut milk
- Scant 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Using your hands, mix all ingredients for the macaroon crust together in a bowl.
Pour crust into a greased 8”x8” glass baking dish and press crust firmly to compact it together.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool.
While crust is baking, combine juices, zest if using, sweeteners, cornstarch and salt in a sauce pan. Whisk constantly over high heat until mixtures begins to thicken. Don’t worry if it takes on a lumpy texture, step 2 will smooth it out!
Immediately turn off heat and whisk in butter and coconut cream until smooth.
Add turmeric for a brighter lemony color.
Cool slightly, then pour over crust.
The more you press the crust, the better it will hold together after baking.
Use a pizza cutter to give a nice clean cut to the squares.
I love this recipe for the lemon curd because even if your mixture goes lumpy in step one, adding the coconut cream and butter and giving it a good hard whisk seems to correct it back to smooth and silky.
*It’s best to use organic lemons if you want to add the zest because of the high pesticide content in the rind, however if you’re just using the juice and organic lemons are out of your budget, regular lemons will do.
Make sure the stevia you use is 100% pure as many stevia products have additives including added sweeteners. I get mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own tiny scoop.
Organic cornstarch, while on the pricey side is best because of GMOs in nonorganic corn.
I use Thai Kitchen’s full fat coconut milk because the coconut cream is often already separated from the liquid. However, if the cream hasn’t consolidated on its own (you can tell by giving the can a gentle shake, refrigerate it overnight upside down.
I found adding a little turmeric enhances the visual appeal of the curd since the white grape juice and coconut nectar or agave produce a beige-colored curd.
Refrigerate to set, then use a sieve to dust with coconut flour.