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My Guiltless & Egg-less Lemon Bars with Cardamom have less than half the sugar of the average bar. But they still pack in the flavor, tang, and buttery goodness of a shortbread crust. There aren’t any weird “diet” ingredients, and still each comes in at around 237 calories vs the usual nearly 400 per square. Unlike other “low calorie/low sugar” recipes, this bar isn’t the size of your thumbnail in order to keep the calorie count low, and consequently your craving unsatisfied. These are at least 3″x2″, a real portion!
Less than HALF the sugar? Really? Yes, really!
The best part is that my bars have significantly less sugar than typical Lemon Bars, most of which contain close to 50g of sugar. I’ve swapped in agave for some, but also replaced the traditional powdered sugar topping with shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut. Its gives it a great texture and a beautiful look.
As I mentioned before, the typical lemon bar from your local bakery will run you a minimum of nearly 400 calories for an equal serving. A great deal of that comes from a pure fat known as egg yolks. By eliminating the eggs altogether, the fat content drops, but the greatest change comes in the cholesterol content. Yolks add body, richness, color, and lots of cholesterol. I know it seems peculiar, but silken tofu is a substitute that works so well in this case. It’s got great volume, is tasteless, low in fat, and high in protein. Oh, and its cholesterol FREE! It’s an excellent substitute for dairy in many recipes. Who’dda thunk it?
♥ Make Ahead:
Curd: This “curd” couldn’t be simpler to make. With traditional egg curds you may need some practice and skill to temper in the yolks without having pieces of scrambled eggs floating throughout your curd. With this egg-less filling, you simply combine your ingredients and blend! Seriously… that’s it.
But, as with any lemon bar recipe, you sort of have to plan ahead to give these time to chill and set before serving. To make the process easier, I like to make the “curd” a day or two in advance when I have a free minute and leave it in the refrigerator. When I’m ready to make the bars I only need to make the crust, and pour in the prepared curd.
〈 Looking another “bar” recipe? Try my Chai Spiced Apple Bars, no-roll crust and under 320 Cal! Easy Weekday Baking 〉
♥ Make Ahead & Freeze:
Finished Lemon Bars: These freeze beautifully. Just lay the chilled, cut bars in a single layer on a plate or in their baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze. Once frozen, put pieces of wax or parchment paper in between if you are stacking to make them fit into an airtight container. When you long for dessert on a weeknight, or want to impress guests with a last-minute dinner party these are excellent. Just pull them out at least an hour before and let them thaw in the refrigerator.
Getting your parchment paper to stay put as you press in your crust can be like chasing a lone pea around a large dinner plate: frustrating and messy. This is particularly true if you, like myself, have non-stick pans for easier clean up and less of a need for extra fat when making sure your baked goods don’t make a permanent home out of the pan/casserole dish.In an effort to make this work, especially when my imaginary sous chef is on vacation, I had to think outside of the box. Using heavy cans to force the parchment to fold into the corners ended up being the perfect remedy. Before you even start measuring out your ingredients, get your parchment paper into the pan where you want it. Then, take 4 canned food items and push them into each corner. (Clean them off first. Who knows where they’ve been or by whom they were handled at the store!) By the time you are ready to fit your crust into your pan, the parchment will be creased and not slide around on you as much.
◊ So, tell me: what have you baked using tofu? ◊
Lemon Bars with Cardamom; Guiltless & Egg-less
150 calories LESS and 1/2 the sugar of the average bar
- 12 tbsp (6 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp (1/4 cup +2 tbsp) brown sugar
- 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp ice water
- 1 cup, packed (225g) lite firm or firm silken tofu (*Chef’s Note ↓)
- 1/3 cup light agave
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, not bottled…PLEASE!
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
(I buy the flaked coconut and process it for a bit in my mini food processor, but they also make unsweetened shredded coconut.)
*Chef’s Note*– Are you wondering what the heck is Silken Tofu? Is it different from regular tofu? Read more here to get a better understanding.
- Line an 9″x13″ baking pan with parchment, making sure to have extra paper on each end. You’ll use this later to lift the bars out of the pan. Set aside.
- In a small bowl sift together the salt and flour. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer, combine the COLD butter with the white and brown sugars. Using your mixer on medium speed, beat together until fluffy. It’ll look like its not going to come together because of the cold butter, but just hang in there. It’ll work! Dump in all the flour mixture and reduce the speed to low. Beat until it resembles a rough corn meal. Sprinkle with ice water using your hands mix together.
- Pour that into your over the parchment in your prepared pan and press evenly coming up 1/2″ on the sides. This is important to keep your curd from running under. Because there are no eggs in the curd its much runnier than traditional curd, but trust me, it’ll set up after it bakes. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. While its chilling, begin preheating your oven to 375º.
- Bake for about 25 mins or until its lightly golden brown. (If your oven has a lot of hot spots, rotate the pan half way through.) Remove from oven and place entire pan on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.
Make Ahead Curd Method:
- Into your blender, or deep cup to use with an immersion blender, combine all the “curd” ingredients except for the granulated sugar. Blend until smooth. Stir in the sugar. (*If Making Ahead- Move to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to two days. If you do so, make sure to give it a good stir before pouring into crust because the sugar may settle at the bottom, particularly if you use organic sugar.)
*Chef’s Note*– I try to avoid put granulated or brown sugar into any of my kitchen tools that have sharp blades, i.e. food processor, immersion blender, regular blender. The sugar can act as a sort of sand paper and dull the blades. So, when able, I prefer to just stir it in at the end.
Lemon Bars Method:
- Once the crust is cooled, increase your oven temp to 375º and pour the curd into the crust, being careful not to let it run under the crust. (Again, remember that its runny.) Bake for 20 minutes
- Then decrease the oven temp to 350º and bake 10 more mins, or until the curd is set. Remove from the oven and set to cool on a cooling rack. Once completely cooled refrigerate. Once cold, cut into 16 pieces and THEN sprinkle with coconut.
See Make Ahead Notes above.
See Make Ahead Notes above.