No bake Lemon Cashew Squares

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.

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5.0 from 6 reviews
No bake Lemon Cashew Squares
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Grain-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8x8 pan, 16 servings
 
The most amazing dessert I’ve ever had, or made. Vegan and gluten-free lemon squares with a date crust and lemon whipped topping. Simple ingredients, easy prep, fabulous results.
Ingredients
Base
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • 20 (290 grams) pitted medjool dates
Lemon whipped topping
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours, drained and rinsed
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • Zest from 3 lemons
  • ¼ cup coconut nectar
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoon coconut oil, room temperature
  • flesh from 1 vanilla bean
  • 500mL coconut cream, chilled
Instructions
  1. To make the base, in a food processor, chop cashews and almonds until chunky.
  2. Add dates to the food processor and pulse until they’re broken down.
  3. Press date mixture into an 8×8 pan and place in the freezer.
  4. To make the whipped topping, combine cashews, juice, zest, coconut nectar, water, coconut oil, and vanilla flesh in the bowl of your food processor.
  5. Process mixture until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add coconut cream. Process until combined and smooth.
  7. Pour whipped topping over prepared base. Cover and place in the fridge to set overnight.
  8. The next day, cut into 16 squares and serve.
  9. Keep leftovers in original pan, covered and in the fridge. Will last up to a week.
    Notes
    For the base, feel free to use any nuts you have on hand. For the whipped topping, any type of liquid sweetener should do the trick. If you can't find coconut cream, chill full fat coconut milk overnight and skim the thick topping out of the can.

    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!

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    Comments | Leave Your Comment

    1. Woah, I haven’t seen that packaged coconut cream around here, that would be amazing, I go through so much coconut around here these days. OK now I need to find a place that sells this. Oh and this dessert looks absolutely sinful Leanne, my kind of dessert for sure.
      By the way, I think I am totally gonna have to nab that idea of laying down the burlap for a background, it looks amazing. I really really love it. :)

    2. oh i want to take a spoon to that food processor. LOVE lemon desserts. I bet you had a blast getting your hand dirty again in the kitchen, I always miss it also after being away even for a few days.

      • Oh I totally had a blast! I absolutely destroyed our kitchen. Even with a no bake treat, it was a complete disaster when I was finished.

    3. Wow, these look so good!

      Leanne — I’ve been making a simple syrup with coconut sugar. It gets dark and molasses-y, though not *quite* as sticky as brown rice syrup or molasses. Do you think it would work in place of the coconut nectar?

      • Thanks, Katie! I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. What you may want to do is omit the water from the recipe and use 1/4 cup of your syrup. If you need to add additional liquids you can, but that would be my suggestion. Hope that helps!

    4. Wow this looks yummy. I need to get some coconut cream, which I have never used. I pretty much use the same type of base now when I make frozen or chilled desserts requiring a base. We love it!!

    5. This looks absolutely amazing. I don’t bake…or make desserts often at all BUT I might have to try this out stat.

    6. Amazing recipe! Lush is the perfect word to describe how it looks. I looked at a couple of sites (in Canada) for the coconut cream and clicked your link, and couldn’t find any here. Leanne, if you order on Amazon.com, don’t they ding you extra in shipping or even an extra customs fee for sending to Canada? I would also love to know where you get all your other ingredients? I’ve ordered from Upaya Naturals and will do so again, but I would love to know if there is another specialty spot. (I’m in Chilliwack BC, Canada :) Thanks for the recipe! I love lemon!!!

      • Thanks! I purchase most of my ingredients from Superstore with the odd thing here and there from Bulk Barn and the local health food store. If you can’t find the coconut cream, I listed a couple of replacement/substitution ideas in the notes of the recipe that could help!

    7. Love the texture of that brown “thing” you set the dessert on in the last photo, for lack of a better word! This looks really good!

    8. Wow. Just wow. Do you like to share? Because I don’t know if I could make these without eating them all myself. Or without eating most of the topping before it goes on the base.

    9. Oh my…LUSH truly is the word…This has got to be the most beautiful inviting dessert post you have ever produced thus far!! I will definitely be hunting down coconut nectar…but could I use solid palm sugar and “do something” to achieve your superlative results?…So difficult to find the “nectar” here in France…

      I love anything lemon…and this…looks exquisite!…Thanks again for sharing!

      • Thanks Donna! Honey would work too, if you have it on hand!

    10. Leanne, do you get the coconut cream at Superstore? My MIL makes a no bake lemon cheesecake that I have been craving, this would so do the trick! Thanks!

      • The coconut cream I have pictured on the blog was purchased at Community Natural Foods in Calgary (SW location). But, I’ve listed a couple of instructions in the notes of the recipe so that you can use full fat coconut milk if you can’t find the coconut cream. Hope that helps!

    11. YUM! {Pinned} it almost was pinned under ‘breakfast’. i can content with that. ;)

      • I like your style, Christine. Ya, this could pass as breakfast… totally.

    12. I have seen vegan recipes puree nuts in the creamy portion of the cheesecake. I have been curious to try it, and see what the flavors are like. Since I adore lemon bars, or anything lemony for that matter, I am now more interested in trying this gorgeous recipe. Really creative and fun! Two batches would definitely be needed for sure:-) Hugs, Terra

    13. I’m in the process of making these and can’t wait to taste them! I used your suggestion of coconut milk instead of coconut cream. I have all of the extra coconut milk that was skimmed off the top. What can I do with it?

    14. Oh my goodness I just came across your website and WOW!!! Loving all these recipes!! Question for you, what font is the title of your blog?! I love it!

      • Hi Christina, thank you! It’s called “LHF Bounce Script”. Enjoy browsing my blog ;)

        • Thanks so much! Your pictures are amazing and I just might pin every darn recipe you have!!! YUMMMM!!!!

          • haha it could take you a long time, but I’m down with that!! ;)

    15. Leanne, I’m going to try to make this as a lemon cream pie filling with a rice pie crust I have in the fridge. Any suggestions? Also, I don’t have coconut nectar, but I do have honey and agave. What should the portions be for agave or honey? For those of you looking for coconut cream, you can find it in a lot of Asian grocers/markets too.

      • Hi Sona – I just found this comment on yours in my spam folder, sorry about that! I hope you figured it out and if not, a graham cracker crust would probably taste best. Just make sure you allow it to cool completely, even freeze the crust before you add the filling. Agave or honey would work with about 75% the amount of coconut nectar listed. And, I got the coconut cream at Community across from Chinook. If you get regular full-fat coconut milk, just chill the can overnight and use the thick cream on the top as the coconut cream. There are directions of this method in the “notes” section of the recipe. Enjoy!

    16. Looks really nice. Can I ask, if you have a recipe which requires coconut cream or coconut milk but not a whole pack/tin, what is the best way to keep the remainder? Can you freeze it, for example?? Or is it better to just use it up in some more cooking?! They often put salt in it here to stop it going sour, but I don’t know how long that makes it last. Thanks!

      • Hi Awen – best to check my recipe page and search for coconut cream, coconut milk, or coconut. I have SO many coconut recipes! I keep the remainder in my fridge for a couple of days or freeze it in ice cube trays and add to smoothies when required. Hope that helps!

    17. Made this last night, but the lemon cream filling is still pretty soft, after a night in the fridge. I don’t mind at all cuz I eat it straight out of the pan, but I tried packing some for my friend and it kind of became a chilled custard in the tupperware during her ride home. Oh well!

      Delicious recipe though! I subbed pecans for almonds though cuz we didn’t have any almonds. And I added some gluten-free ginger snaps I had on hand! I’m gonna make these again and again!

      • Oh no! The bars should fully set in the fridge but may get a bit liquidy when they’re left out in a tupperware as your friend experienced. Next time you make them (could have been the quality of the coconut cream) try removing all water from the recipe.

        I love the idea of adding ginger snaps, yum!

    18. Hiiii!
      my small group at church has some crazy dietary needs.. within the group we have a girl with a gluten free/ sugar free diet, my husband and i are vegan and another couple are soy free! I made this last night and everyone was really really impressed and all asked for the recipe!
      Will be making this again for sure!
      Thanks so much.

      • Wow, that’s so awesome! I’m so happy that my recipe could be part of your event.

    19. I have seen canned coconut cream at my Sacramento, Ca Trader Joe’s. I have a can in the pantry I haven’t tried yet. Here’s the recipe to try it out.

    20. Oh my! This looks absolutely delicious and i’m definetely doing this soon. The thing is it is very hard to find coconut goodies in my area so could I replace coconut nectar with honey? And the coconut cream? There is only small cubes package aroung here? Any ideas??

      Thanks :)

    21. I followed the directions exactly and put them in the fridge overnight. The whipped topping did not come out light and fluffy as showing in your photo. What went wrong?

      • Hi Paula – it could have been in the coconut milk or cream that you used. Was it very, very thick?

    22. Yes, it was very thick (17% fat). Should it be whipped before adding to the mixture?

      The tates was wonderful (I brought a piece with me at work today) just not light and fluffy like yours.

    23. Yum! Made these today for the kids lunches this week, but I don’t think there will be any left by Monday. The whole family loved them. I did the following to suit what I had on hand: I chilled a can of coconut milk in the fridge for an hour or two, then skimmed the thick cream off the top. That only gave me about a cup so I up the cashews in the topping to 1 1/2 cups. Instead of the water, I used the juice of all three lemons. I also used 1/2 coconut palm sugar for the sweetener. I added tsp of grass fed gelatin into the vitamix to be sure they would set up nicely, which they did, although if I packed them in a school lunch kit I think I’d include a spoon, as the topping wouldn’t hold up in a knack sack:)

      • Gelatin… I’ll have to give that a try! I’m so happy your tribe of little ones enjoyed them! Have a great week, Jody ;)

    24. Hey there,
      I would like to make these for the holiday but I live on an island and some of the ingredients are not available. Instead of the coconut nectar, could I use honey or maple syrup? If so, how much? Also, I don’t have coconut cream, any chance there is a substitute for that?
      Thanks

      • Hey Nicole – for sure, you could use the same amount in honey. Coconut cream is going to be a bit more difficult. Do you have access to full-fat coconut milk? If so, you just need to chill the can and use the fattier cream for this recipe. Otherwise you could try to use cashews… blended?

    25. We are SO trying this! We don’t often eat nuts because even after being soaked can be really nasty on digestion but for the times we do feel like some, this is exactly the kinda thing we’d wanna make!

      And we love that there’s no agave like in many no-bake recipes. Just wholesome natural ingredients, good job guys!

      Thanks for posting this recipe!

    26. Wow, do I love these bars! Today I didn’t have all the ingredients but flew add it with these modifications:
      I used soaked walniuts in the base and added 1 cup shredded coconut (I was looking to end up with a larger yield so the coconut lucked it up nicely) along with 5 extra dates.
      For the topping I first made coconut butter in the vitamix, starting with 2 cups shredded. Blended until smooth then added all other ingredients with the following substitutions:
      Juice of 6 limes instead of lemons
      Honey instead of nectar
      An extra cup of cashews
      Turned out great and just about doubled the yield.
      Great, versatile recipe.
      Jody

    27. hi! this recipe looks delicious but I was wondering if I could substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla bean flesh?

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