Vegan Lemon Bars with Maple Oat Crust

I hated lemon for 18 years.

I can’t say why. I tried it in all of its manifestations, and still I couldn’t stomach it. I tried a bit in my tea for a “citrus undertone”… a complete failure. I tried lemonade, but found it cringe-inducingly sweet. I even tried lemon drop candies, but thought they may as well’ve been cough drops.

Then, I had the world’s best lemon square.

The absolute best lemon square ever that I tried was from the Danish Pastry House right near my university. I went there on an impulse, and so I was already feeling whimsical. They had a large glass case full of every imaginable pastry or sweet, but my eyes fell on the ones advertised as “World’s Best Lemon Squares.”

Needless to say, I was skeptical. Not if it was the best in the world, just if I would like it at all, in any capacity. So I got it with my morning quadruple espresso (useful for eclipsing other flavors).

It was amazing, absolutely a delight. Not too tangy, not overly sweet- and the crust! To die for. These bars are modeled after the bliss I experienced. That day, a revelation came over me, a citrus flavored revelation.

I’ve never looked back.

Vegan Lemon Bars

Ingredients- Crust
2/3 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup almond meal
3 tb organic dark brown sugar
1 tsp maple extract, or 2 tb maple syrup
Zest of one lemon
5 tb vegan margarine

Combine ingredients in food processor in order listed. Add in margarine last, cut up into 1″ cubes. Pulse until mixture is coarse and crumbly.

Press into 8″ by 8″ pan and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.

Ingredients- Filling
(adapted from Baked Bree)
1 package extra firm tofu, drained
1/4 cup light almond milk
A few drops of yellow food dye, for color
1 1/4 cup organic sugar (or coconut sugar)
Zest and juice of 3 lemons
4 tb organic unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Combine all ingredients except baking powder in food processor until smooth consistency, about a minute. When crust has cooled, add baking powder to filling and pulse, then pour filling over crust. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

When bars have cooled, place in fridge for at least 4 hours, or freeze for one hour and then transfer to fridge for 1-2 hours. Before serving, dust tops with powdered sugar.

My mind has been such a whirlwind lately. It’s like I need twice as much time to process events than the time it takes to actually do things. When I don’t have time to think, it all just builds up and I end up mentally clogged, like a dam near bursting. And it picks the strangest times to all come through, like in a subway car traveling through dark tunnels backwards at 50 mph.

Fun fact: citrus smells literally boost your body’s production of serotonin. So when we say lemons are “bright,” or “sunny,” turns out we’re not too far off. A much needed facet, I think.

Happy  (biochemically enhanced) nomming,


17 responses to “Vegan Lemon Bars with Maple Oat Crust

  1. Love the typeface snowfield! A brilliantly gooey bar and very tasty looking too!

  2. Hi Danny! I love lemon desserts… something so summery and refreshing about them. And the fact that they are vegan means that I can bring them into work for some of my vegan coworkers. They look delicious! Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. I love your photography its so artistic and you have a way of capturing the fun in everything! So inspired by your blog :)

  4. Congrats on finding a way to include lemon in your life ;)
    These look fabulous – I love the use of tofu in desserts. So healthy, and so good!

  5. Mine didn’t turn out quite as yellow as your but so delicious!

  6. estheticvegan

    I can’t say I’m wired like you. When I was a kid, I used to suck on pure lemon wedges. I loved how they were so tangy they made my face twist. A bit odd, perhaps? :D

  7. Haha, great! So where does this leave us with the “when life gives you lemons”- deal? :D

  8. These look awesome, lemon bars were my favorite pre-vegan dessert. Love your musings, will come back often. From an over 40 year old, but definitely not a housewife!

  9. Ok. So these are delicious. My only concern is why yours look so much gooey-er than mine. I feel like I might be missing out on more deliciousness. I used extra firm tofu so I’m thinking maybe next time I use silken?

    • I photographed these on a particularly hot day, so they were literally melting on the table :D However, if the bars aren’t as gooey as you’d like, I recommend adding 1/8-1/4 cup of light almond milk, which won’t affect the flavor, and then refrigerating the bars an extra hour or so to make sure they are set. This should provide that ooey-gooey texture!

  10. I love you for posting this. I love everything lemon….and these are perfect for lil’ ol’ vegan me!

  11. These bars do look so amazing – so creamy and such a beautiful lemon color… I’m featuring this post in Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and it’s always a pleasure following you…

    • Oh, of course! Thanks so much! I’ll try to get more recipes to pin on the Food Fetish Friday Pinterest board, so many awesome posts lately!

  12. Oh yum, these look so yummy!

  13. My husband made these for the fam last night and they were a hit! (Well, everyone but the 5 yo loved them.) But that’s 7 to 1!

  14. This piece of writing gives clear idea in favor of the new users
    of blogging, that really how to do blogging.

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