Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reduced Guilt Triple Lemon Bars

When life hands you LEMONS.... make LEMON BARS!!  

My parents lemon trees are going crazy right now, so I decided I would make a batch of 'light or skinny' lemon bars today.  While discussing the idea with my food mentor, my mom, she remembered seeing an episode of The Chew on ABC which featured a recipe by Dr. Oz's daughter, Daphne, for a 'lighter' version of the traditional lemon bar.  My mom (who has a crazy-good memory) also remembered that Daphne's 'light' lemon bars were made with coconut oil instead of butter!  I had never used coconut oil in any of my recipes so I figured it was worth a try... 

These lemon bars turned out DELICIOUS!  In an effort to 'lighten up' the original recipe even more, I substituted light agave nectar for sugar in the crust and cut back on the amount of sugar in the filling.  Using coconut oil in place of butter added an interesting and exotic note to the crust (not to mention coconut oil has many health benefits too: read more here).  The filling of this lemon bar turns out more dense and custardy than your traditional, gooey lemon bar; it's much heartier and more cake-like.  With lemon juice or lemon zest in all three components (crust, filling, and topping), these bars pack a refreshing lemony flavor without being too overpowering or tart.

Reduced Guilt Triple Lemon Bars
adapted from a recipe by Daphne Oz via The Chew

For the Oatmeal Crust:
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/4 cup light agave nectar (or granulated sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon (zest; reserve juice for filling)
1 1/2 cups Quick-Cooking oats (ground)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:
7 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons; reserve zest)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For Serving:
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (plus reserved zest for dusting)

Step 1 - For the Oatmeal Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk coconut oil and agave nectar (or sugar) for about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat for another minute, or until blended. Add the oats and salt and mix just until fully incorporated. Do not over mix the dough.

Step 2 - Turn dough out into a 9x13 inch baking dish and evenly press into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the dish.

Step 3 - Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, just until cooked and pale golden color. Do not turn oven off. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Step 4 - For the Filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until combined.

Step 5 - Pour the mixture into the baked crust and cooked for 35 to 40 minutes, or until filling is set. Remove and allow to cool on the wire rack.

Step 6 - Once completely cooled, dust the confectioner's sugar over the lemon bars and sprinkle the reserved lemon zest. Cut lemon bars into squares. Serve chilled.

Note:  The longer these bars chill in the refrigerator, the more assertive the lemon flavor becomes.  

I love lemon... and these lemon bars are yummy and satisfying.  I will make them again! :)


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