It feels like summer around here (you’d hardly believe we had snow just last week). The sunshine warming up the pine trees so that when you walk by you can almost feel the way they smell. Do you know what I mean? The warmth and pine smell surrounding you so completely that you are not only smelling it, you can feel it on your skin. That sensation reminds me of summertime; camping in the quiet of the woods and the empty hollows of canyons, picnics in mountain meadows, hikes that cover you in dry red dirt, swimming in the untouched water of a remote glacier lake and dessert on weathered tables in your grandma’s backyard.
This summertime sensation is coupled with my affinity for lemon everything. Hense why a few weeks ago I went crazy and made 5 batches of lemon bars in the course of 2 weeks. All the sugar and butter left me in a bit of a lemon bar sugar coma. But I was still craving the zesty tang and smooth cream of a lemon bar. I wanted a lemon bar that could pass as both a healthy snack and a tasty dessert. Enter these sunshine colored beauties.
This take on a lemon bar is
and has no added sugar
You’re probably thinking they taste like dirt and will cost you a car payment to make. Wrong. They are tangy and bright, but also naturally sweet and creamy. And I believe the total cost to make 12 of these was well under a car payment. Unless you bought a matchbox car.
Raw Lemon Apricot Cream Cakes
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
4 apricots (soaked ~20 minutes)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (room temperature)
1 cup raw cashews (soaked 2 hours minimum, overnight max)
3/4 cup lemon juice
12 apricots (soaked ~20 minutes)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
zest of 1-2 lemons
Place the cashews into a bowl of water, let rest and soak for minimum 2 hours, max overnight. Towards the end of the cashew’s soak time, place the apricots in a separate bowl of water to soak for 20 minutes.
While the cashews and apricots are soaking, prep a cupcake pan with liners, or if you are fancy and have a mini cheesecake pan, grease that with coconut oil. Enjoy a cup of coffee and scan through your instagram feed while you wait for the cashews and apricots to be done soaking.
To make the crust: In a blender*, pour the almonds and blend on high until they are all broken up into a combination of small chunks and fine meal. Add 4 apricots, coconut shreds and the coconut oil. Blend again until all the chunks are about the same size and the mixture holds together when you squish between your fingers. Pack the crust mixture firmly into the bottom of the cupcake liners.
Wash out the blender.
To make the filling: drain the cashews and then pour into blender along with the lemon juice, turmeric** and 12 apricots. Blend on high until you get a thick, creamy mixture. Start adding your lemon zest, to taste***. Pour filling on top of crust. Smooth out tops with a knife and tap the pan on the counter to settle the filling and release any air bubbles.
Cover with plastic and place pan in the freezer for 2 hours or until filling is set. If eating right away, remove from freezer, thaw 15 minutes and top with your choice of almonds, coconut shreds, coconut whipped cream, diced apricots…you really can’t go wrong here. If storing for later enjoyment, remove from pan and place into an airtight container. Cakes with keep in the freezer for 4 weeks.
*I have a simple KitchenAid Blender, not a fancy pants Vitamix, and this worked
**the turmeric is for coloring, not taste. If you don’t want to add turmeric, that’s fine, but your cakes will most likely not be a bright, cheery yellow color.
***this is not a sweet, sweet dessert – which makes sense because it contains no added sugar. If you prefer a sweeter taste, add a tablespoon of a natural sweetener like honey, maple syrup or apple sauce to the filling. Or go all out and add a tablespoon of cane sugar, but at that point you might as well make regular ol’ lemon bars. Also it’s worth noting that the coconut whipped cream contains 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, so if you opt for that topping, it’ll sweeten up the lemon cakes.