Since we’ve moved here to Southern California, just about two months ago, we haven’t had any guests come stay with us just yet. My sister comes two weeks from today and I have literally been counting down the
days minutes, then my parents come just one month later! I cannot wait! Last week however, our very good friend Jane, who lives in Colorado, came to see us for the day. She had been in Corona, CA for the week and she was able to borrow a car to drive out to our neck of the woods.
Although we have quite a few good friends here in Southern California, whom we have known for many years, it was really nice to have our first “family” guest since we’ve moved here. Even if just for a few hours. Jane has been a part of my life since I can remember, she and Mom went to high school together and have remained in contact since. My sisters and I have always jokingly called Jane, “our other Mother”. There hasn’t been a Christmas morning that we didn’t share with Jane, she would always make the trip back to Buffalo from Colorado to spend the holidays with her family and we were always lucky enough to steal her away for a few hours on Christmas morning. Before she had nieces Jane would actually spend Christmas Eve night at our house and we would wake up in the morning and she would make us clean our room before we could go downstairs and attack the tree. Likely buying my parents time to get more sleep, since I am sure they were all up late.
Besides my own actual immediate family, I don’t think that we could have another guest here in the first two months that could have made me any happier. Since she was here a short time, I offered to make her lunch. She absolutely adores my family’s Greek Avgolemeno soup, which she loves to tell me Mom that I make better than her. So I of course, made a big pot of that for her visit. I am sure you have heard me mention many times before that this soup always reminds me of home and my family, so it really couldn’t have been more perfect for this visit.
When Jane arrived she brought me a huge bag FULL of fresh produce from the organic farm on the land where she was staying. So many different varieties of oranges, lemons, a few grapefruits and a few types of citrus that I have never even seen before, plus the most delicious avocados. Besides looking beautiful and tasting amazing, all of the citrus have been making the house smell incredible.
There were some Meyer lemons in the bag. Those are my absolute favorite. They are just so tasty and subtly sweet, so much so that I hate to waste them just in my morning lemon water or in a juice. I wanted to make something extra special with them. I just wish I could have made these bars and then shared them with Jane.
What makes this recipe extra special, besides who/where I got the Meyer lemons from, is that you actually use an entire whole lemon in the filling. Yes the whole fruit. Peel, pith and all. So, it is quite important that you use an organic lemon, or at least one that is unsprayed and free of pesticides or other chemicals.
You can certainly use a regular lemon in place of the Meyer lemon, but you’ll want to increase the sweetener a bit since it won’t be as sweet as the Meyer lemon is. The filling of this recipe was adapted from David Lebovitz. His recipe utilizes corn starch, a regular lemon, regular sugar and butter, so I tweaked it to make it work for me and to highlight the flavor of the Meyer lemon.
*If you are vegan, I would be hesitant to recommend any egg replacers in place of the eggs, since there is a fluffiness from the eggs that gives the filling it’s texture. There are many vegan lemon bar recipes that use silken tofu or soaked cashews to created a creamy topping, but since I had a dozen beautiful brown eggs fresh from a local farmer, I decided they would be perfect for this. If anyone does experiment in making this vegan, please do report back, I would love to hear how it turns out.
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour, I prefer Honeyville brand
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 whole organic Meyer lemon, washed (organic or unsprayed)
- 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup*
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (approx 2 additional lemons)
- 4 large farm fresh brown eggs, at room temperature
- 4 teaspoons arrowroot starch (tapioca starch or corn starch would also work)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (make sure it isn’t too hot when you add it in, you don’t want it to cook the eggs)
- Unsweetened shredded coconut for topping or the traditional powdered sugar works, too.
*Please Note – since the sweetness and bitterness on Meyer lemons can vary drastically, you may need to increase your sweetener to account for more tart Meyer lemons. Give the mixture a quick taste before you add the eggs to see if you need to. It should be a bit bitter but not too much so. Obviously the sweetener will have to be increased if you choose regular lemons over Meyer lemons. Additionally, if they are on the tart side, powdered sugar on top can definitely help with that, as well.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line an 8-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one going in each direction. In a medium bowl, mix all of the crust ingredients together. You may want to get your hands in there to really get it mixed together well. This will be a thick crumbly crust that you will need press onto bottom of pan. Make sure it is even and gets into the corners. Place in oven to pre-bake the crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven.
While the crust is baking, cut the whole lemon in half, remove the seeds, and cut the lemon into chunks. Put the chunks of lemon in a food processor or blender along with the honey and additional lemon juice, and let it run until the lemon is completely broken up. Add the eggs, arrowroot powder, salt, and melted coconut oil and blend until almost smooth. (A few tiny bits of lemon pieces are ok and totally encouraged.)
Once the crust comes out of the oven, lower the temperature of the oven to 300ºF. Pour the lemon topping over the hot crust and bake for 25 minutes or just until the filling is no longer jiggling and is barely set.
Remove the bars from the oven and let them cool completely. Once totally cool, carefully lift out the bars out grasping the parchment paper. Cut the bars into squares or rectangles. I like to cut into 16 smaller sized squares. They last longer that way. Add shredded coconut or sift powdered sugar over the top just before serving, if desired.
These bars will keep covered or in an airtight container at room temperature up to three days. The crust will definitely get soggy as they sit, however. You can also freeze the lemon bars for up to one month, letting them come to room temperature before serving. [/print_this]