Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars

vegan lemon bar 1

These lemon bars are the brain child of craving lemon bars the second spring hit, being gifted a huge bag of Brandless Oats & Honey Granola while trying to avoid eating granola (due to my lack of self-control when it comes to this crack snack), and the response to an Instagram poll where lemon bars won in a landslide.

vegan lemon bar 2

These lemon bars are vegan. No, I don't follow a vegan diet, I tried and gained what felt like 5 lbs. in 5 days due to eating pasta and carbs in replacement for protein and dairy. However, I've found that cooking and baking while trying to modify for various diets is a challenge and a fun experiment. It also doesn't hurt to watch your intake of added sugar, animal products and excess dairy. Due to the granola, these bars are not gluten-free, but the are vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, and free of processed sugar. 

vegan lemon bar 3

Quick plug for Brandless before we move on. This recipe is not sponsored by Brandless, but I have to brag on them. The granola, the parchment paper and the knife (yes the knife) that I used in parts of this recipe are all from Brandless. It's my new obsession. They are a fair-trade, non-GMO, mostly organic, no added sugar food and household item company where everything is $3. And for each purchase made on Brandless, a meal is donated to Feeding America. 

vegan lemon bar 4
vegan lemon bar 5

Creamy Vegan Lemon Bars
yields 16 bars

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews* soaked
1 cup coconut cream (the hardened portion at the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup agave
2 cups plain granola, I used Brandless Oats & Honey, but any kind of honey, almond, or vanilla flavor will work. 
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1-2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:
Place your cashews in a bowl and cover with very hot water. Let soak for 1 hour. Line an 8x8 square pan with parchment paper, letting the edges hang over the sides and set aside. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a blender or food processor, pulse the granola until it is the texture of fine crumbs. In a small bowl, mix melted coconut oil and granola crumbs.  Press mixture into prepared pan. Using the bottom of a measuring cup or drinking glass, make sure crust is pressed firmly into pan. Bake for 10 minutes until edges are slightly golden. 

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a high powdered blender, add soaked cashews, coconut cream, juice and zest of lemons and agave. Blend together until smooth and creamy. Taste and make sure flavor is where you want it. I added a bit more lemon zest after tasting. You want the lemon flavor to be bright and it to be slightly sweet.

Spread filling mixture over the baked crust. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until the edges are firm and the center slightly jiggly (LOL jiggly). Let rest for 10 minutes. Chill for at least 4 hours in the fridge or overnight. 

Using the parchment paper to assist you, pull the lemon bars out of the pan. Cut evenly into 16 squares. Lightly sift powdered sugar over the top. Fine served at room temperature, but store in the fridge for optimal freshness!

vegan lemon bars 6

Annie