As the antiquated adage goes, when it rains, it pours. When in drought-stricken California however, what falls from the sky is not a deluge of precipitation, but of citrus. Yes, you heard me right: Fruit is showering the city streets at this very moment, heavy with juice and blown asunder by the most gentle gusts of wind. Every variety you can imagine, from the average lemon and lime to more exotic mandarins, yuzu, pomelo, even Buddha’s hand litter the pavement. Dash out for a quick walk around the neighborhood, eyes to the ground, and you can take care of your vitamin C needs without spending a dime.
Urban foraging has kept my fruit bin full of these tart, tangy, sour, and sometimes sweet gems. Oranges are real treasures, eaten straight out of hand, sometimes before even returning home, but the most plunder is the venerated Meyer lemon. Popularized by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame, it’s no surprise that this particular specimen that’s come to represent so much of California cuisine now thrives up and down the coast, and is especially concentrated so close to home.
Thus, lemons have been on the menu at every turn lately, when alternative acids and groceries in general are scarce. Large pitchers of lemonade sit chilled, at the ready as the days grow warmer, threatening to skip right over spring and straight into the summer season. Fine flecks of zest sparkle in simple vinaigrettes, lavished over everything from greens to grains. Jars of marmalade use up every scrap of peel, preserving the harvest for countless slabs of toast to come.
For dessert, of course, you can do no better than homemade lemon bars.
Luscious, silken curd dazzles like a semi-sold bite of sunshine atop a buttery, pleasantly sandy shortbread crust. Tender and yielding, each square trembles gently in the hand, melting the instant it hits the tongue. Avowed lemon-lovers and fair weather friends alike can agree that a properly baked lemon bar can even surpass the appeal of a beguiling chocolate cake.
Finished with a flurry of powdered sugar, this classic, unassailable treat suits every occasion, every season, every craving, as far as I’m concerned. Even if lemons aren’t literally falling into your lap, do yourself the kindness of splurging on a generous surplus. Trust me, you’ll find a way to use them up without any difficulty, especially with this sweet serving suggestion on deck.
Brown Sugar Shortbread:
- 1/2 Cup Vegan Butter or Refined Coconut Oil, Melted
- 1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
- 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
Chickpea Lemon Curd:
- 1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
- 2/3 Cup Chickpea Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Agar Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
- 1/2 Cups Water
- 1 1/4 Cups Lemon Juice (From About 5 Lemons)
- 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter or Refined Coconut Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest
- Confectioner's Sugar, as Needed (Optional)
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving a fair length overhanging the sides. This will make it much easier to lift and remove the finished bars later. Lightly grease and set aside.
- To make the crust place the melted vegan butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the flour and stir to incorporate, creating a smooth, very thick dough. Transfer to your prepared pan and press down firmly into one even layer. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the granulated sugar, chickpea flour, agar, salt, and turmeric in a medium saucepan. Slowly pour in the water and lemon juice, stirring continuously, to combine. Beat vigorously to make sure there are no lumps remaining before setting it over medium heat.
- Continue stirring until the mixture thickens significantly, becoming slightly sticky and glossy. This should take about 8 - 10 minutes. Immediately pour the mixture on top of the crust, smoothing down the top with a spatula, and let to cool at room temperature. Transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 1 hour before slicing.
- To serve, lightly dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired.
Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days; do not stack, and reserve confectioner's sugar topping until ready to serve.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 328Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 1gSugar: 39gProtein: 3g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.