Pucker-up-baby lemon squares

LemonSquares.jpgMy lemon-loving friend, Michela, continues to inspire me to explore lemon-y desserts. Here’s the latest – the most glorious sweet and tart and lemon-y squares with a delightful shortbread crust. I pretty much followed the recipe exactly from My Darling Vegan except I didn’t use Meyer lemons, just the usual kind, which are much larger.

I didn’t know that Meyers were rather miniature so I ended up with a lot of leftover lemons… and you know what to do when life hands you lemons, right? Tequila time! But I digress.

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Here is My Darling Vegan’s recipe.

My only comments on My Darling Vegan’s recipe are:

1) you need the juice of 1 ½ regular lemons or 5-6 Meyer lemons.

2) you cannot whip this recipe up in a hurry. It’s simple but there’s cooling time needed in between steps.

So get baking! My edits/comments are clearly marked for you.

Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup vegan margarine

1/4 cup granulated sugar  (Make sure it’s vegan – some white sugars are “filtered” white using charred animal bones so check that the brand you’re buying is vegan or go with an unrefined granulated sugar.)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup all-purpose flour

Meyer Lemon Curd

1 package (12 oz) extra firm silken tofu

1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (5-6 lemons) or just lemon juice (1 ½ lemons)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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To make the crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, beat Use a wooden spoon to cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together until smooth and creamy. Add the flour and mix until well incorporated.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Do not switch the oven off yet.

To make the Lemon Curd

In a food processor combine tofu, lemon juice, zest, and granulated sugar and process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Add the powdered sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla extract and process again until combined.

Pour onto the cooled crust and bake for another 25-30 minutes still at 350F until the lemon curd has set.

Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes and then place in the refrigerator to cool all the way.

Dust with powdered sugar or candied lemon slices just before serving.

To cut, lift the dessert right out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into slices – should make 12-16 squares

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Spicy pickled zucchini slices

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Everyone is humblebragging about their surprisingly massive zucchinis and fauxmoaning on what to do with this summer’s harvest. And we’ve all made suggestions. Now here’s something completely different. I grabbed this recipe from the Bon Appetit website and have been making Szechuan zucchini slices for a few summers.

These zucchini slices are pickled but require no special equipment, no canning savvy and pose no threat of weird botulism spores (real canning freaks me out just a little).

Hot, sweet and salty, these slices will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge and make a pretty hostess gift.

Watch for these slices to appear in an upcoming blog post accompanying an Asian slaw and  orange-peanut sweet potato burgers.

Note you need to make these slices at least 24 hours before you plan to eat them.

Ingredients

1 zucchini – either green or yellow – washed and sliced into thin coins

2 Tbsp granulated sugar (make sure the brand you buy is vegan*)

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp chili flakes

2 whole pieces star anise

½ cup water

½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar (do NOT use seasoned rice vinegar – it’ll over-flavour and salt the brine).

Directions

Put the sliced zucchini into a 2 cup (500 ml) canning jar. Drop in the star anise and the chili flakes.

Mix the sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a cup or jar until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour this brine over the slices, seal the jar and store in the fridge. Let the slices sit for at least 24 hours before eating. They will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

*What? What’s this about white sugar not being vegan?? Yup. That’s right. Many manufacturers of granulated white sugar filter the product through animal bone char to create snowy white sugar. Ugh. If you don’t want death at your door, check out the manufacturing process for the brand you buy (in Canada, Redpath is a vegan brand). Now you know why vegans with a sweet tooth love their agave, dates and maple syrup so much.

 

 

Chocolate walnut loaf

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Ah, chocolate. I love it. This beautiful loaf is straightforward, unpretentious and delicious. The recipe is from the cookbook “How it all Vegan” by Barnard/Kramer.

My only changes simplify some of the measurements (do you really need to count out 7 tablespoons of oil when it ½ cup will do the trick?) and to add ½ a cup of vegan chocolate chips, because where chocolate is concerned, more is more.

Ingredients

1 cup plant-based milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp ground flax or chia seeds

6 Tbsp water

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

¾ to 1 cup sugar (make sure you use unbleached or raw sugar, for a vegan cake)*

½ cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ cup oil ( I use melted oil but you could use any flavourless oil)

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup vegan chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch loaf pan. Have your pan and your oven ready to go. Once you’ve mixed your batter and the vinegar hits the baking soda and baking powder, the leavening action starts happening and you want this baby in the oven!

Mix the milk, water, vinegar and flax or chia seeds in a small bowl. In a larger bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Yes –sift. I am a lazy baker but sifting here is a good idea so you don’t end up with weird, white salty bursts of unincorporated baking soda or baking powder in your finished loaf. Stir these dry ingredients together, then stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.

Add the milk/water mixture, the vanilla and the oil to the dry ingredients and mix together until you have a  sticky batter. Do not beat or over stir. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes. I needed the full 55 minutes in a convection oven.

Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes before removing it from the pan and slicing it.

*What’s the deal with white sugar? About 60% of white sugar produced in North America is whitened by filtering the unrefined sugar through charred animal bones. Ugh. This process doesn’t have to be noted on the sugar packaging. So unless you find white sugar that’s specifically labelled vegan, you’re better off going with unrefined or raw sugar. The taste is exactly the same except you know… no animal bones.