Slightly tart, with a crisp crust and an intensely-flavoured filling, a lemon pie is one of the French’s most favourite desserts. Any bakery in France will have a “Tarte au Citron” to offer (with or without a meringue topping – although it seems French cooks tend to stay away from the fluffy-sugary topping lately).
So when I opened my friend Marie’s new cookbook “Simply Citrus “ and spotted this Coconut Lemon Bars recipe – described as a delicious, dairy-free, exotic variation of the timeless classic – (and with no meringue topping!), I simply knew I had to try it.
And, although for some French bakers making a butter-free crust may sound like blasphemy, I honestly did not miss the dairy at all.
I have been following Marie’s blog Food Nouveau for a while now and I simply love her approachable tone and easy-to-follow recipes. So far, I haven’t tried one of her recipes that did not turn out absolutely perfect (which is a huge positive for me – one that makes me want to revisit one’s blog over and over again).
Just two weeks ago, I made her textbook Banana Bread recipe for the first time; and yes indeed, it gave me THE perfect Banana Bread (you have to try it!).
“Simply Citrus” will be released on March 6th, 2018, and Marie was so kind as to send me a copy as a preview. It is a great book – bright, colorful, beautifully-photographed (by the talented Catherine Côté), and full of fresh looking, delightful recipes.
I have already spotted a few of my soon-to-become favourites, including a Mile-High Lemon and Mascarpone Crêpe Cake and cute little Sesame Kumquat Financiers (I will definitly try these ones next, as soon as I can get my hands on kumquats.)
Following the aura of her blog, Marie’s recipe for these Coconut Lemon Bars was easy to follow and made every step flow naturally one after the other.
The addition of shredded coconut in the crust offers a delicate crispness and the coconut oil builds a delicate richness that balances with the tartness of the lemon notes. The filling is perfectly-textured, smooth yet firm, and not-too-sweet. Surprisingly in France, bakeries offer lemon pies on the sweeter side – which I am not a huge fan of – but this filling was spot-on.
- For serving, Marie garnishes the bars with toasted unsweetened shredded Coconut. I have used (untoasted) unsweetened shredded coconut and placed a nice slice of toasted coconut on each bar (just because this is what I had in my pantry).
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
1⁄3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 cup melted coconut oil
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of kosher salt
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon
zest (about 1 lemon)
3⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Toasted unsweetened shredded Coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper, letting it overhang on two sides (this will make it easier to pull the squares out later).
Crust - In a medium bowl, combine the flour, coconut, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir the oil into the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Place the dough into the prepared pan, and firmly press down all the way to the sides. Bake the crust until it just starts to brown around the edges, 15–20 minutes.
Filling - In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the lemon zest and juice; whisk until the mixture is completely smooth. Pour the filling over the hot crust. Bake until the filling is just set, 15–18 minutes. The filling should start to turn golden around the edges, and the center should be a bit jiggly (it will firm up as it cools). Let the squares cool completely to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting.
Just before serving, dust the bars with powdered sugar and garnish with coconut.
Recipe from Simply Citrus by Marie Asselin, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith. Pre-order the book and get a free eBook by filling out the form after you place your order.