Thank you all so much for your kind words in response to yesterday’s post. It was a not-so-great day for me, that was made more frustrating by the fact that I somehow managed to smash my French press while attempting to make coffee and then the blog went totally blank for a couple of hours after I updated my recipe plugin. When it rains, it pours, right? At that point I could only laugh.
A word of caution: if you use the easy recipe plugin, do NOT install the 2.1.9 update. They’ve since released an update to that one that reportedly does not kill your blog, but I’m too scared to go there. I spent most of yesterday morning and afternoon learning how to force deactivate their plugin (you have to use FTP to re-name it) and will be looking into alternatives for my posts. As far as my recipe page, I’m already in the process of transitioning over to Recipage.
Enough about that. Onto the fun stuff!
Rather than attempting a pie this time, I decided to try my hand at lemon bars. The filling is similar, so I knew bars would satisfy my craving, but without the scary vegan meringue topping. I still don’t know how they do that, although I remember them saying something about soy? One of these days, I WILL figure it out. And I’ll make sure to share the secret when I do.
Lemon bars can also be kind of tricky when you don’t bake with eggs or gelatin, and although a lot of recipes rely on cornstarch to thicken the filling, I’m not always the biggest fan of the texture it creates. It can sometimes taste a little…off. So I consulted my much-loved Veganomicon cookbook, and found that their recipe uses agar agar flakes. This was a totally new-to-me ingredient, but after a quick Google search, I learned that agar agar is a vegetarian substitute for gelatin that’s made from seaweed. Sounded interesting.
Of course, I immediately planned a trip to Whole Foods to pick some up, and crossed my fingers that it would actually work and not be nearly $8 down the drain (it’s pricey!). I also tried to stay focused on the agar when I went in the store, but inevitably came out with salad bar and kombucha as well. I just don’t think it’s possible to come out of Whole Foods with a single item.
Anyway, because it was my first time using agar agar flakes, I went with the Veganomicon recipe, which I knew wouldn’t let me down. But instead of using their super indulgent, sugary crust, I went with a lemon bar crust from Eat Live Run, and just used Earth Balance instead of butter. It made significantly less crust than the Veganomicon recipe, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a filling girl at heart. The crust is simply a vehicle to get as much filling from plate to mouth without making a mess of whatever I’m wearing. In most cases this is yoga clothes, but still.
This recipe turned out so well! I had my doubts about the agar agar flakes, but they really were very easy to work with. You just let them sit for about 15 minutes in water, and then boil until they’re dissolved. And the best part? You don’t even have to own the Veganomicon cookbook to make these – the recipe is posted on the No Meat Athlete blog! I do, however, highly recommend that cookbook. I’ve yet to make a recipe that hasn’t been incredible.
The only thing I might change the next time I make lemon bars is using a touch less turmeric for the yellow coloring. It may have just been the brand of spice that I used, but the yellow was a bit too saturated.
Next up…figuring out how to make vegan meringue. Anyone?