Gluten Free Lemon Bars

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m in the kitchen. Baking. Since I don’t seem to do it much anymore, you know… with trying to eat healthier as well as gluten free… I’ve forgotten how it gets me in my zone. Zone of comfort. Zone of knowing, and, of thinking how at this very moment in time, all is right in my world.

As I put together what I’m sure will be another top notch recipe from Bon Appétit I have the inimitable Nina Simone in the background asking “where sinnerman is going to run to”… while I contemplate whether or not to add the lemon zest to the filling. While I just adore lemon desserts I do not adore what I find to be an annoyance, that being lemon zest in any smooth citrus-y filling. Period. But, that’s just me. Do as you see fit. It is your kitchen after all. Your call.

Also wondering how I managed to run out of both vanilla and vanilla beans, I was grateful to rediscover the lemon extract stashed at the back of the baking cupboard.

Contemplative indeed, while putting this recipe together, it also occurred to me that because the flour has no gluten, you really cannot over process the dough – which we know would lead to a tough end product. Silver lining. Life is good.

So, with a few modifications and liberties including processing the dough longer than I normally would, substituting lemon extract for the vanilla bean and omitting the lemon zest from the filling, I have confidence the recipe will turn out to full satisfaction. That’s the kind of day it is. Happy Sunday~


Gluten Free Lemon Bars

The toasted coconut in the crust lends flavor and texture and complements the curd filling. A food processor makes light work of mixing the crust. I used my stand mixer for the filling. Be sure to cool the bars thoroughly, before sifting the icing sugar over top and cutting. Makes: 16 bars

Shortbread Crust:
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup gluten free all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg yolk
¼ cup (½ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise (could also use vanilla or lemon extract)

Filling And Assembly:
4 large eggs
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons gluten free all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Icing sugar, to sift/decorate the top

Shortbread Crust:
Preheat oven to 350° and toast the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, approx. 5 minutes.

Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on all sides. Pulse flour, sugar & salt in a food processor just to combine.

Add coconut, egg yolk & butter and scrape in vanilla seeds (save pod for another use) or extract. Process until a dough forms. Gather into a ball and press into bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until golden brown, approx. 25 – 30 minutes.

While the crust is baking, process eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, flour, and baking powder in a food processor (or stand mixer) until smooth. Pour filling into warm crust and bake until filling is beginning to brown at the edges and is just set in the center, 25 – 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, dust lemon bar with powdered sugar and cut into 2” squares.