I am not a big fan of lemon squares, especially traditional ones, but I really like these lemon crumb squares. My husband loves lemon squares (with a big L). He also loves lemon pie, lemon loaf, lemon cake, and lemon anything really. Give him a lemon pie, set him in a corner and he'll be in bliss for eternity. When I make lemon squares, usually they're gone before the sun sets. If they last till supper it would be a miracle. Typically, I have to steal a few squares and hide them in the freezer so I can have them the next day.
These lemon crumb squares will be a hit at your next bbq. Oh and they are absolutely divine when frozen - almost like lemon crumb ice cream. Yumm!
Here's how you make them...
I'll talk about tofu in a minute, but don't dismiss this recipe yet. Just keep reading... everything will turn out fine and the world will be a happy place.
Now, let's talk about tofu. For this recipe, you need silken tofu. Often people use the wrong type of tofu and blame the recipe when it flops. If I had to use a baking analogy, I'd say that using tofu is pretty much like using flour. There are many types of flour. Some are interchangeable; some are not. For example, you can generally switch all purpose flour for whole wheat without much trouble. However, if you use bread flour instead of pastry flour in a cake, you will greatly alter the recipe and the results will be disastrous. You will most likely end up with a very tough cake, that did not cook properly and has a chewy texture, because bread flour is specifically designed for breads and yeast doughs that require kneading. Pastry flour is specifically designed for pastry and cakes that require tender crumbs and a soft fluffy interior. Tofu is similar. Generally, there are two types: Silken Tofu and Dry Tofu.
Silken tofu, also known as Japanese tofu, has a consistency like that of pudding. Think creme caramel. It falls apart easily when touched with a fork or spoon. Silken tofu is great for salad dressings, sauces and replacing eggs in dense cakes and other baked goods. It's usually packaged in aseptic boxes and does not require refrigeration. It's generally found in the whole foods/organic section of the grocery store, on the shelf with other tetra pack containers. The firmness of silken tofu depends on the recipe it's going in. You can buy silken tofu in soft, medium, firm and extra firm consistencies. They are processed slightly differently, and are not interchangeable in a recipe. For the lemon squares, I prefer firm or extra firm silken tofu. For brownies or pound cakes I prefer soft silken tofu.
Dry tofu, also known as Chinese tofu, has a consistency that resembles cottage cheese or ricotta. It's firm and bounces back when pressed. It needs to stay refrigerated and will often be found in the produce or deli section of the grocery store. It's great in stir fries and other dishes that emulate chicken. It holds it's shape very well and can even be used as a substitute for scrambled eggs. It's not very good in baked goods because it does not have the same smooth texture of silken tofu.
So remember, for baked goods, you almost always will need the silken tofu variety. Here's a picture of both types to give you an idea of what they look like.
Okay, class dismissed.
Now that you have all the knowledge about tofu and it's in the bowl along with the honey, start preparing the lemons. Take the zest of all the lemons along with the juice. One lemon usually yields about 1/4 cup of juice.
Add the sugar and custard to the lemon juice and the zest. Then dump them all into the tofu mixture and stir. Add the applesauce. Or if you're like me and have a single white female lemon pudding lurking in the fridge and threatening to self destruct unless eaten, use that instead. Applesauce, lemon pudding, vanilla pudding, whatever... it's all good.
This is what it looks like after...
Thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but still runny. Don't worry, it will firm up once cooked.
Next, melt the dairy free margarine in a large bowl and add all the dry ingredients to it. Mix them to create a crumble.
The crumble should look like this...
Take half that crumble and dump it in a prepared dish. I use a 9x13 inch baking dish and line it with foil, leaving enough of an overhang so I can lift up the squares later and cut easily. Gently press with your hand to create a base layer. Make sure it's even.
Pour the lemon tofu. Lick the spoon clean when you're done...
Spread it gently until it's all even and level. Don't fret if it's not level enough. Don't be like me. I've got some OCD going on and a highly dysfunctional brain - more like a labyrinth really.
Anyway... this is as level as I could make it without going insane and being institutionalized.
Sprinkle the rest of the crumble on top. Again, don't panic if it's not all uniform. This is not Martha Stewart's kitchen; this is Allergy Mom's kitchen, where things just happen and we roll with them. Then we fret about them later and lose lots of sleep over the tiny little piece of parsley stuck at the tip of the drain.
If you want a clean slice, it's best to chill it for in the freezer for 30 minutes then take it out, remove from the tray using the foil overhang and slice into squares. If you're a freak like me, slice them so that they're all equal in size. That way the moon will not fall from the sky and the sun will not implode.
And here they are... the little morsels of heaven.
Yields 24 squares
1 1/2 cup silken tofu, firm (or one 12 oz pack)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
3 Tbsp dairy & egg free custard powder (such as Bird's Custard Powder)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 cup dairy free margarine melted
1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang at the sides to be able to lift the squares after baking. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine silken tofu and honey. Beat with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. Stir in applesauce and lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine custard powder and sugar. Add to tofu mixture along with lemon zest. Stir with a rubber spatula until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine melted margarine, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour half the mixture into prepared tray. Press with hands to create an even layer. Pour tofu mixture on top and spread evenly. Sprinkle remainder of crumb mixture on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until crumbs are light golden. Let cool completely before slicing. For a clean edge cut, chill in freezer for 30 minutes before slicing.
Nutritional Info (Per square)
Calories 162.7, Total Fat 4.47g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 100.75mg, Potassium 75.05mg, Total Carbohydrates 29.28g, Fiber 1g, Sugar 16.59g, Protein 2.37g
Nutrition analysis is approximate and will vary depending on exact ingredients used. Calculations are based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet. Nutritional Facts are obtained from Radium Technologies' Living Cookbook. However, Allergymom.ca has no affiliation with Radium Technologies and does not guarantee the accuracy of this information.