Monday, March 14, 2011

How I learned to stop worrying &love the algae

6 months ago, in a happy lemon fog, I told Iris that I would accept her challenge to make her gfree lemon bars vegan! In the midst of a move. Uhuh. We all saw how well I posted on that, mmm? However, the actual process of figuring out how to replace 2 eggs did take a few trys and some quelling of hostile oven takeovers. At first, I thought coconut or almond milk yogurt could work, and wouldn't it be great if they had it in lemon? Sadly, they only had lemon yogurt in soy yogurt. So if you can have soy, mayhap you can play with this, but the plain yogurt dulled the tart lemon that I prefer in my lemon bars. Finally, a eureka moment while I was packing my cookbooks-Veganomicon! This is a great cookbook even if you are not vegan and has been great for someone with Leslie's needs. Surely they have lemon bars, I thought-and they did! They used agar agar to jell the filling-genius! Agar agar is derived from algae and many vegans use it in place of gelatin for jelling and thickening. They also suggested tumeric for color, but I didn't use it, since I was using palm sugar, which is brown-as you can see. They used white sugar, so if you use a whiter sugar or sugar substitute, that would be the way to go. Let me say algae is my new favorite thing and I bow in the direction of Isa Chandra-Moskowitz, murmuring I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy.

submitted to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Gluten Free Wednesdays

Gfree, Vegan Lemon Bars

1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup potato starch (you could also use tapioca)
1/4 cup cornstartch (ditto)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 cup palm sugar (you could also use honey-Zoe did, but I was out of honey, having subsisted on tea for my throat for a good 2 weeks)
1 cup shortening-I like spectrum's palm oil (Zoe used Earth balance spread, if you prefer)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (or if you are avoiding coconut, veg oil of your choice)

Whisk all flours, starches, sugar, salt and gums together. Add the shortening and cream into the dry ingriedents- I use my Kitchenaid mixer with a paddle attachment. Add in the coconut oil and continue mixing until it is incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse meal and holds together when pressed. Press into a 9x 13 pan-as you can see I used my trusty Pyrex. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 min til the crust smells great and has browned slightly. Cool completely on wire rack, 30 min or so.

1 1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons agar agar
1 1/2 cup palm sugar (you could try 1 cup of honey too)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons softened-not melted-coconut oil.

Fill a heavy saucepan with the water. Add the agar agar and let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, get on with zesting and juicing the lemons! When you have 2/3 cup of juice, add the arrowroot powder, whisking heartily to help distribute the powder evenly and help it to dissolve. After the 15 min for agar agar is up, turn up the heat to med/high and boil for 10 minutes, or until the agar agar is dissolved. Add palm sugar, stir til everything looks caramelesque and smells great. Whisk coconut oil in. Add the arrowroot thickened lemon juice and zest and whisk constantly til thickened, about 5 minutes. Don't let this boil rapidly! A few slow lazy bubbles is what you are aiming for. This will thicken into a very gelatinous substance to pour into your crust. I say pour into crust, but really it is more like you upend your pot over the crust and the filling falls out with a ploomph sound and you spread it evenly over the crust with a spatula. Let cool at room temprature for 20 minutes or so, then stick in your ice box for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Et voila! Lemon bars that look like apricot bars but taste deliciously, tartly of lemon.


  1. I also never would have thought to use agar-agar instead of yogourt. Good job with the substitutions - these bars look really good!

  2. @withoutadornment aw thanks! honestly tho, most of the substituting for the gluten free was done by Zoe at I just had to figure out the egg part with some help :)