Dude. Lemon bars, I'm tellin' ya, and you have to believe me, are in my top 5 favorite desserts of all time. Serious. I enjoy all good food as you well know, and I'm generally touting the joy of every amazingly beautiful flavor in every recipe as the bestest EVER, which is always true. But sometimes a girl's gotta have a favorite, something that reaches out and grabs you with a shake, saying, "You must eat me. Even if you are full. Even if you know you'll get a sugar headache. Especially if you know I am particularly delicious and animal-free and cold from the fridge. You. Must. Have. Me." The lemon bars are seducing me.
Unfortunately, in most cases, lemon bars are made with a mountain of eggs to get that golden yellow hue and can also exhibit a pound of butter in the crust. We don't have time for that crap. We want our butts to be high and perky and our arms to be firm and our tummies to be happy. Screw butter and eggs. This lemon bar has none of those. It also doesn't call for anything fancy in the way of ingredients, no agar-agar (which is really cool stuff but too expensive for this girl) and no turmeric.
Simple. Alluring. Cold and zippy. My fave.
Crust first! The crust is my favorite of the favorite, so buttery sweet. It is, then, with no hesitation that I admit having made a double recipe of this in order to get a super thick, dense crust. If that's not you, just bust out a regular batch. With your mixer, hand or stand, cream together:
1 stick Earth Balance
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
Just throw it all in and mix. Simple. It should come together really easily, attaining that nice pie dough consistency rather quickly, but if it seems too dry you can add a tablespoon or two of water. This texture is just about right:
Soft, smashable, but not too dry. Press this yummy dough firmly into the bottom of an ungreased square cake pan, flattening with your hands as you go and going slightly up the sides to help keep the filling sealed to the crust (and not stuck to the bottom). Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are just slightly browned.
While it's baking, put together your simple pudding-like filling. It's really important to pour the hot filling over the hot crust, so hop to it! It needs to be ready soon. In a saucepan, combine the following:
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
dash o' salt
Now, turn the burner on to medium high and whisk in:
1 3/4 cup water
zest of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup lemon juice
Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. The mixture will immediately thicken up, but just keep stirring and make sure you're checking for burnage on the bottom. Stir, stir, stir for about 5 minutes or until a thick, pudding-y consistency is achieved. Pour your sheZAM lemony filling over the crust, hot from the oven, and let the whole thang cool. Put it in the fridge. Let it hang out.
When you're ready, and you will so totally be ready, slice and serve. You can dust the tops with powdered sugar too if you'd like!
(recipe inspired by and heavily adapted from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes)