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Friday, 18 June 2021

Vegan Lemon Meringue Bars

This post is a paid collaboration with Natures Charm.


A vegan buttery shortbread base, a zesty lemon filling topped with a toasted meringue and freshly zested lemon. 

Zesty, lemony, creamy and smooth are all the descriptive words I could think of which describe these lemon meringue bars.

These bars have 3 layers:

Firstly, a base. I have made a vegan shortbread base for these bars as it's crumbly, buttery and overall delicious. The flavour and texture of shortbread compliments the smooth lemon filling perfectly.

Secondly, a lemon filling. Similar to a lemon curd, this lemon filling is zesty, fruity fresh and absolutely scrumptious! It's cram packed full of freshly juiced lemons for a zingy kick. It's easy to make, sets firm and is the most perfect lemon filling for a lemon meringue.

Lastly, a toasted meringue. I love making Meringue with the whipping stages and of course, the blow torching( which is the fun part). I used a thick meringue which is firm, easy to cut and keeps its shape. It used aquafaba (chickpea brine) as the base, along with a sugar syrup with vegan gelatine. I use 'Vege Gel' which I picked up from Sainsburys in the baking isle. It makes for a perfect meringue for these bars!


To make the lemon filling as creamy and delicious as possible, I used freshly squeezed lemon juice, coconut cream and Natures Charm Condensed MilkFor more information about product placement and partnerships, check out my Disclosure Policy.

You have seen me use and promote Natures Charm for a while now. They have become my go-to brand for coconut creams, caramel sauces, fudge sauces and of course my favourite product from them- Vegan condensed milk.

They have 2 condensed milks- Coconut Condensed Milk and Oat Condensed Milk.

This was my first time trying their Oat Condensed Milk. It has a tasty oat flavour and is silky smooth! I have to say it tastes delicious directly from the can, I didn't dunk a large spoon in the can and try it that way.... I promise- haha! The humble oat is now a go-to grain that everyone is loving and this NEW condensed milk is revolutionary. Try it in your coffee, or mix it into a sweet sauce, use it in banoffee pie or cheesecake, or use it in my lemon meringue bars!  It adds a scrumptiously sweet creaminess with an oaty flavour and takes this tasty recipe to the next level.

Buy the Condensed Milk here. Click here.

Check out their whole range of products here.
Looking for more lemony desserts? Look no further:

Notes*

What is Aquafaba?: Aquafaba is the water from a can/tin of Chickpeas. The Chickpea water or brine as it's called, acts as an amazing egg substitute for cakes, cupcakes and this delicious meringue. You can also get aquafaba in a carton for easy use. Check it out here.

How do I get Coconut cream?: Chill a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, turn it upside down and open. Pour out the liquid and use the thick, white cream.

Preparation: Overnight
Baking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 8-10
Level: Medium

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Ingredients for the base

  • 250g of plain flour (you can use gluten-free flour)
  • 125g of caster sugar
  • 230g of dairy-free butter/margarine (softened at room temperature)

Ingredients for the lemon filling

  • 180ml of lemon juice
  • 350g of coconut cream (see notes*)
  • 410g of caster sugar
  • 70g of cornflour / cornstarch
  • 60g of Natures Charm Oat Condensed Milk
  • 2 teaspoon of ground turmeric

Ingredients for the meringue

  • 200ml of aquafaba (chickpea brine) see notes*
  • 125g of caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vegan gelatine (I use Vege Gel)
  • 40ml of water
  • 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
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Method (base)
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees c fan, and line a 9 x 9 inch square baking tin with grease proof paper. Allow the paper hang either side of the tin. This makes it easier for lifting out and removing the bars when ready.

2. Sift the flour and sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl, then add in the softened butter. 
Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your finger tips until a smooth dough forms.

3. Press the dough into the lined tin, making sure to get it as flat and even as possible. Prick the base with a fork, pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden in colour. 
Leave the oven on as you will need it for baking the lemon filling.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack at room temperate whilst you make the lemon filling.

Method (lemon filling)
1. Place all of the lemon filling ingredients into a medium sized saucepan. Place the saucepan on the hob and heat over low / medium, stirring constantly, preferably with a whisk to help break up any lumps. After around 5-8 minutes the lemon curd will thicken. If the curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk. 

2. Once thick, pour onto the base and smooth out. Return back into the oven for 15 minutes at 180 degrees c.

3. After 15 minutes, remove from the oven, being very carful as its extremely hot and place on a wire rack and allow to cool fully. 
Once cool, transfer to the fridge. Chill overnight before adding on the meringue. 

Method (meringue)
1. Measure out 200ml of aquafaba (chickpea brine), pour into a medium sized saucepan and reduce on a low/medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir constantly throughout. Once it's reduced, weigh out to make sure it has reduced to 100ml. You want the aquafaba to reduce to half of the original mixture.

2. Pour the chickpea brine into a medium sized mixing bowl along with the cream of tartar and whisk together for 10-15 minutes until soft peaks form. I use a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer with a balloon whisk attachment. A electric hand whisk will work great too.

3. Place the sugar, vegan gelatine and water into a small sauceppan and bring to boil. Keep an eye on it as you don't want it to burn. Try to avoid mixing it as it can effect the sugar. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. When it comes up to 120 degrees c, take it off the heat, and pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl and whip the meringue until stiff peaks. Whilst its whipping, it'll cool down.  It will take around 5-10 minutes on high speed to get to stiff peaks. 

4. Once ready, spoon the meringue on top of the set lemon filling. Swirl it around using an off-set spatula to create peaks and texture.

5. Use a blow torch to slightly toast the top of the meringue. Don't burn it!

If you don't have a blow torch you can either leave this step, serve the bars with some lemon zest or pop the bars under the grill to grill it slightly.

Slice into bars and enjoy. You could even serve these bars with some freshly zested lemon (optional).

To store:
Store these bars in the fridge. Best enjoyed within 2 days of making. 
Without meringue, best enjoyed within a week of making. 

Shop the whole 'Natures Charm' range here.
 A huge thank you to Natures Charm for collabing on this recipe with me!

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