I enjoyed our mini vacation, but boy did I have a good time in the kitchen yesterday! It felt like it’d been ages since I’d cooked something. As nice as it was to eat out at fun restaurants in Montreal for 4 days straight, come day 3 I was ready for a simple home cooked meal.
To my surprise, the first thought that came to mind yesterday afternoon while I was toying around with what to make for the blog today were the lemon squares Kevin and I had enjoyed at the Coup a couple of months ago. Not the salads, roasted sweet potatoes, or casseroles I’d dreamed of feasting on while I was in Montreal, but a dessert. Eh, priorities, right?
These bars couldn’t be more heavenly, really. The bottom crust is sweet with a neutral taste and the whipped topping is light, frothy, packed with natural lemon flavor and a hint of sweetness. Seriously, the whole package is the bomb.
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup raw almonds
- 20 (290 grams) pitted medjool dates
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours, drained and rinsed
- Juice from 2 lemons
- Zest from 3 lemons
- ¼ cup coconut nectar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp coconut oil, room temperature
- flesh from 1 vanilla bean
- 500mL coconut cream, chilled
- ¼ cup dehydrated, unsweetened coconut chips, for garnish
- extra lemon zest, for garnish
- To make the base, in a food processor, chop cashews and almonds until chunky.
- Add dates to the food processor and pulse until they’re broken down.
- Press date mixture into an 8×8 pan and place in the freezer.
- To make the whipped topping, combine cashews, juice, zest, coconut nectar, water, coconut oil, and vanilla flesh in the bowl of your food processor.
- Process mixture until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Add coconut cream. Process until combined and smooth.
- Pour whipped topping over prepared base. Cover and place in the fridge to set overnight.
- The next day, cut into 16 squares and serve.
- Keep leftovers in original pan, covered and in the fridge. Will last up to a week.
The amount of lemon in this dessert just makes the squares sing!
I chose to try out the coconut nectar I ordered from Upaya Naturals ages ago instead of using brown rice syrup with this recipe. The coconut nectar is similar to brown rice syrup or molasses. It’s really sticky, stringy, and lightly sweet. I’m not sure I could use it as a topping on waffles as the image on the container indicates, but I think it’s a great alternative to other high GI sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and brown rice syrup.
To read more about coconut nectar compared to other sweeteners, check out this article.
This coconut cream topping is my new favorite. I’ve kept a couple of boxes of it in the fridge for months now. It’s a great replacement for whipped cream, satisfies an ice cream craving, and works wonders in recipes that call for full-fat yogurt.
Begin the recipe by making the base. Chop cashews and almonds in your processor until chunky. Add dates and pulse until they’re broken down.
Drop mixture into an 8×8 pan and press it firmly into the pan.
Place in the freezer as you prepare the whipped topping.
To make the whipped topping, combine cashews, juice, zest, coconut nectar, water, coconut oil, and vanilla flesh in the bowl of your food processor. Process mixture until smooth, about 2 minutes.
I’m sure you could do this in a blender too. I had already dirtied my food processor, so I stuck with the same appliance because I love avoiding making a mess wherever possible… even though my kitchen rarely looks like I support this notion.
Add coconut cream. Process until combined and smooth.
Pour whipped topping over prepared base. Cover and place in the fridge to set overnight or for at least 6 hours. For the purpose of preparing this recipe and taking pictures all in the same day, I let my squares set for 6 hours. They were okay to cut, but checking on them this morning, I wish I would have waited as it would have made my life a bit easier… I just couldn’t wait to share this recipe with you!
No one will judge you if you use your finger, hand, or… face… to clean the food processor bowl afterward. Oh my word you’ll wish the bars were ready immediately.
But be patient young grasshopper. Every moment you wait will be well worth it in the end. You’ll just wish you had made two batches instead of the one!