As a kid, lemon bars were my favorite dessert. A flaky shortbread crust with a sweet & tart lemony topping? Perfection. With this version, however, we’re taking it a step further by adding fresh figs into the lemon topping. This gives our bars a gorgeous purple color and a light fig flavor that blends perfectly with the tart lemons. This is my absolute favorite dessert recipe that I’ve posted on the blog and I hope you’ll give it a shot.
This lemon filling is so easy and authentic, even though it uses no eggs or refined sugars. To make it all come together, we’re using a little bit of tofu, dates, and figs to give the filling body, and a tablespoon of cornstarch to bind it together. Not only does it set into the perfect texture, but it has all the delicious flavors you’d expect from a lemon bar.
Makes 9 bars
- 6 oz firm tofu
- 4 purple figs
- 3 lemons (juice + zest)
- 5-6 small dates
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (I use Sucanat)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons apple sauce
Preheat the oven to 350º F
Step One: Oat Shortbread Crust
Begin melting the coconut oil and sugar in a saucepan over low heat.
In a food processor, add the 1 cup flour, oats, and apple sauce and pulse until combined. Slowly drizzle in the coconut oil and sugar mixture until the dough is clumpy, but do not overmix.
Transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled 8 x 8 inch pan and form a crust along the bottom. Bake for about 15 minutes or until slightly browned.
Step Two: Fig & Lemon Topping
In the food processor, combine all ingredients from the first list (tofu, figs, lemon juice + zest, dates, maple syrup, flour, cornstarch, and vanilla) and process until combined and fully smooth. Give this topping a taste and adjust any ingredients as necessary. Set this topping aside.
When the crust is lightly browned, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Then spread the filling over the top and return to the oven for about 20 minutes at 350º F until the topping has fully set and starts to darken around the edges.
Step Three: Glazed Lemon & Fig Slices (Optional)
As an optional final step, you can slice a lemon and fig into 9 paper-thin slices and add them to a sauté pan with a splash of maple syrup until softened.
About 5 minutes before the lemon bars are finished baking, arrange a lemon and fig slice on top of each square, as shown. Lemon bars are typically topped with powdered white sugar but this is an even prettier (and much healthier) way to top off your fig and lemon bars, don’t you think?