It’s not easy to find a person who doesn’t love lemon bars. With their creamy, tart, refreshing sweetness, lemon bars hit the spot every time.
Not only are standard lemon bars rich in butter, flour, and white sugar, but they sometimes also require making, chilling, and properly rolling out pie dough. I wanted to come up with something a little more healthy and user-friendly.
First, and most challenging, was developing a crust that was low in carbs, sugar, and saturated fat. After a few test runs, I got it right. Almond flour is the winning base ingredient for this. I tried coconut flour as well, and even as a coconut lover, I hated that crust. It was mealy and grainy and it robbed the lemon curd of too much attention. Coconut sugar also makes this crust yummy. It’s so perfect for a crust since it smells quite a bit like graham cracker crumbs, and it also gives a little extra hint of flavor. This crust stays nice and sturdy and doesn’t get soggy, but is still tender.
The next task was a more nutritious lemon curd, the main focus of which was swapping a healthier sweetener. You could also use light agave, which won’t lend the honey flavor to your lemon bars, however agave is not paleo.
1 C almond flour
¼ C solid paleo fat (such as grass-fed butter, palm shortening, coconut oil, etc)
3 T. coconut sugar
2T tapioca or arrowroot starch (you can use cornstarch but it’s not paleo)
¼ tsp kosher salt
4 large cage-free organic eggs, beaten until smooth
1 C honey
15 drops stevia extract
3 T tapioca or arrowroot starch
⅔ C lemon juice— strained, if fresh
¼ C almond milk
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
4 drops lemon essential oil (optional)
2 dashes turmeric, for color (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut solid fat into several chunks and add it, along with all other crust ingredients, into a food processor. Blend until a “dough” forms into a ball.
Press mixture into an even layer of a 8 ½ x 8 1/2 “ pan. A silicon pan works especially well for these. There is no need to chill the crust before placing in a preheated oven. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix eggs and tapioca starch until smooth. Add remaining curd ingredients and mix thoroughly. Set aside until ready for the next step.
When crust is finished baking, remove it from the oven. Lower oven temp to 325, and leave the oven door open for a minute to allow temperature to lower more quickly. It’s important to bake these at a lower temperature or they won’t be creamy.
After the crust has been out of the oven for about 10 minutes and is still moderately hot, spray the sides of the pan with a nonstick cooking spray. Stir the lemon curd again and gently pour it into the pan. Pop any air bubbles that rise to the surface. Bake bars for about 30 minutes, or until there is just a slight jiggle left in the middle of the curd.
Cool to room temp and refrigerate. Bars will slice cleanly if they are frozen when sliced.
Serve chilled. If you happen to have any paleo powdered sugar on hand, use it to decorate the tops of the bars.