Vegan Lemon Bars with Spiced Tahini Caramel

Vegan Lemon Bars with Spiced Tahini Caramel

I'm letting you in on a little secret. Caramel goes really, really well with lemon. The tartness of lemon is an amazing contrast to the sweet, spiciness of this caramel. Not just any caramel either, I created a spicy, sweet tahini caramel. So amazingly, delicious. One bite into these beauties and you will be shaking your head in disbelief that it only took you 8 ingredients to make something so luscious. Oh, and no cooking, no appliances, no baking.

I revamped the classic lemon bar and made them vegan and raw and 10xxxxxxx times better. I'm obsessed with coconut butter and tahini, so I figured, why not combine the two and see what happens? Deliciousness happens. I also added in a spicy caramel swirl made with the tahini and just about died.

Make sure to use a smooth/runny fresh tahini that you like the taste. Some are very bitter. You should not be able to know there is tahini in there...in fact, NONE of my taste testers had a clue it was in there, or what was in there! I have only enjoyed Rawguru tahini which you can either order online or find at Whole Foods. It is very smooth, not overly thick and a very clean mild taste. I have found other brands to taste overpowering.

A twist on the classic lemon bar that is normally just gobs of butter and sugar is not only healthier but tastes so rich and sinful, you will pinch yourself.

Don't believe me?? Well, I dropped off a couple of batches to my taste testers and these were their responses:

"One of your best recipes ever. I don't know how you keep doing it. This tastes so rich it must have something unhealthy in it that you snuck in there. Loved it"

"These bars were so rich, I only needed 3 bites and I was satisfied. Seriously reminded me of lemon cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory."

"Totally luscious and creamy. They were beautiful to look at and tasted even better. Loved the spicy caramel swirl."

People may wonder why I always use taste testers, but it's important for me to get opinions from others, especially people who are used to dairy and butter and sugary desserts. When they love it just as much, or more than I do, I know it's a great recipe to share!

We all have different opinions and likes and what appeals to our tastebuds. I may love something that you may hate, and that's okay. How boring would it be if we were all the same. With that said though, I'd be shocked if anybody didn't love these lemon bars, unless of course, you don't like lemon. That would be SO sad.

These are sooo easy to make too! I use my favorite raw tahini ever by Rawguru....smooth and creamy.

 

I hope you all love these Vegan Lemon Bars with Spiced Tahini Caramel. SO much healthier than traditional lemon bars and even vegan lemon bars out there are full of oil or vegan butter, so these are not only made from whole foods, but the flavor is so rich and authentic. Enjoy!

Yields 8

Vegan Lemon Bars with Spiced Tahini Caramel

Just 8 ingredients needed total for these amazingly, rich lemon bars that are unique, thanks to the spicy tahini caramel swirl effect. These are not only beautiful to look at, but incredibly creamy and will blow everybody's mind that they are not full of butter and sugar.

20 minPrep Time

20 minTotal Time

Recipe Image
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Ingredients

    Crust
  • 1 1/2 cup (225g) raw whole almonds
  • 2-3 tablespoons (40-60g) maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Filling
  • 3/4 cup (135g) completely melted coconut butter (NOT coconut oil!)(I make my own, click here , this ingredient is not optional and cannot be subbed, it is what makes the bars firm up)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (84g) very smooth/runny RAW tahini (toasted tahini will be too strong of a flavor, I use Rawguru or Kroger Simple Truth brand is great)
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (140g) pure maple syrup, room temperature (agave would work too)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (90g) fresh lemon juice, room temperature
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • Lemon zest, optional for garnish
  • Spicy tahini caramel swirl
  • 2 teaspoons smooth/runny tahini
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • water to thin if necessary
  • Note
  • This recipe is written, as with all my recipes, with the ratios that work. As far as SUBS, changing the ingredients could totally alter the texture result, as I've only made it using these ingredients. Please keep this in mind if you want the recipe to turn out right. As far as the tahini, I prefer Rawguru because it is liquidy and very smooth and clean tasting. If your tahini is extremely thick, warm it slightly to a smooth liquid and then measure. If you don't like tahini, you can try subbing with maybe cashew butter. Let me know if you try it!

Instructions

  1. Before beginning, make sure your syrup, tahini and lemon juice are at room temperature, otherwise it will cause the coconut butter to cease up while mixing. Prepare the crust first by adding the nuts to a food processor and processing into a flour. Add the syrup and vanilla and process until it forms clumps and stop. Add more syrup if it's not clumping. Line a 9X5 loaf pan with plastic wrap. Use plastic wrap, not parchment, so you can easily press the mixture on the bottom and shape the bars into squares. Parchment paper is too stiff to do it. Press the dough into the lined pan flat and evenly and out to the edges.
  2. Next, melt your coconut butter to a complete liquid, then measure out 3/4 cup. It is important to measure after it is a complete liquid, so the bars result in the right texture. Set aside.
  3. Next, slightly melt your tahini if it is too thick, then measure 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons. It should also be smooth and liquidy before measuring, so you don't get too much of tahini in the bars. In a medium bowl, combine the raw tahini, syrup, vanilla, lemon juice and salt and stir well. Now, add in the melted coconut butter and stir really well until mixed. It will be thick. Pour on crust and spread out evenly.
  4. Mix swirl ingredients in a small cup with a fork. Drop by spoonfuls onto the lemon batter and swirl around with a toothpick. Garnish with lemon zest, if desired. It gives it a beautiful presentation.
  5. Chill to firm up in fridge a couple of hours, at least. Slice into bars while they are still in the pan. These are very thick and rich, so I cut them into 8 bars. Keep them stored in the fridge.

Notes

*Raw, vegan, gluten-free, oil-free

7.6.5
1743

 

37 Comments

  1. Hmmm - let me see....caramel and lemon - Yup I vote that it has to be delicious!!!!! These are on the "To Do" list! Gorgeous images too.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Cindy!! It IS delicious! I know you love lemon too :)
  2. Your pictures are beautiful Brandi! I'm so intrigued by the caramel/lemon combo... I already know I'd love your base lemon bars as I love lemon desserts and all the ingredients you've used here. I bet raw cashew butter would work well in place of the raw tahini for those who don't have access to it- luckily I do!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Emma! That means a lot coming from you, your pics are always beautiful! :) Oh, and I'm SO glad you mentioned the cashew butter, I was going to add that in there as well as a possible sub. I definitely think that should work and hopefully won't make the bars too hard, as long as it's creamy enough :)
  3. These looks sooooo delicious, will have to try soon :) Do you have a suggestion for what to use instead of coconut butter? It is insanely expensive here in little Denmark...
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Hi Sarah! Thank you! I definitely wouldn't sub the coconut butter, as it is the main ingredient and is what gives the bars their texture and how they firm up. I totally understand not wanting to purchase it though, I make my own for that reason. All you need to buy is unsweetened, undessicated coconut and have a food processor. Easy! Here is my tutorial below. Please let me know when you make these, I'd love to hear your feedback! Thanks :) http://thevegan8.com/2013/10/14/homemade-coconut-butter/
  4. Brandi, you amaze me. Those bars look so delicious. When are you going to open your vegan bakery. I swear, I haven't seen anything even in Manhattan as delicious looking as your desserts.
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Oh Suzanne, I don't deserve that compliment, you are way too nice!!!! But, I will gladly take it, thank you so much! :) :)
  5. Brandi, you are a genious!!! They look so delicious!!! I've got few questions for you :)! - when you say syrup in the crust, is it maple syrup? -what's the difference between coconut butter and coconut oil? I thought they were the same thing -_-. My tahini doesn't say it is raw...I have to find the raw one then :)!!! p.s. I want to order GF oats to make your recipe with the tahini and peanut butter dressing!!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Ema!! You are too sweet. Ok, yes, it is maple syrup, I just updated the recipe, sorry for the confusion! The difference between coconut butter and oil is BIG. Coconut butter is dried coconut that is then pureed into "butter" with a food processor. I make my own, it is super easy and only take 5-8 minutes. Follow the tutorial link below. I'll add that to the recipe as well. Look at your ingredients on your tahini jar, it will say toasted sesame seeds. If it does not say toasted, then you are probably ok and it will be raw. OR, you can order it from the link above OR make your own. You just buy raw sesame seeds and puree them in the food processor for several minutes. You have to scrape the sides many, many times and keep going and going until it basically turns to liquid. It works though. You would need about 2 cups of raw sesame seeds to have enough for the process to turn it into tahini. I have made it at home before and you just keep going until it is very smooth and liquidy, you don't want to stop at the thick paste stage. You can use regular oats if you want for the tahini/peanut butter sauce! :) Link for coconut butter: http://thevegan8.com/2013/10/14/homemade-coconut-butter/#sthash.tqvwniEG.dpuf
      • Thank you so much Brandi! I'll try to make my own coconut butter then :)! It doesn't say toasted sesami seeds so it might be raw :)! Great!!! I have to order GF oats because I am GF and even if they shouldn't contain gluten they are usually made where there is lots of gluten, so only one brand make them GF and I found it out only few weeks ago and I'm so excited to taste them :)!!! Hopefully I'll find the time to make this recipe or the cheese cake one over the weekend :)!!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Oh, I forgot to answer the differences...coconut butter is all the coconut dried, then processed into a butter. Coconut oil, is just simply the separated fat, not the actual coconut. It is just straight liquid fat and not a whole food, which is one reason I don't care for it. I get very sick from oils. The oil also doesn't have the creamy, slightly sweet flavor that coconut butter has, therefore it would just make these bars taste like bland, greasy oil. Haha! They taste completely different. The oil also doesn't firm up as well as coconut butter.
  6. WHOA, what a flavor combo!! I LOVE it, and these look SO good.
  7. These look so delicious, Brandi! Impressive reviews from your taste-testers, as well. Can't wait to try these!
  8. Not like lemon?? Not love these bars.. that would be totally, completely sad:) How pretty and they sound fantastic.. did you say cheesecake? My favorite flavors together in one bar, you are so creative! And.. I have some coconut butter now:Dxx
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Barbara....I love it when my ideas work, because plenty of them are flops in the kitchen!
  9. Yum! I have a serious love of lemony things and I LOVE lemon bars! These look amazing and I love the caramel added in. You are genius!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Aww thanks so much girl!! They really are sinful tasting!
  10. Caramel and Lemon - never even thought of this combo, but caramel makes EVERYTHING taste PHENOMENAL!!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      I agree Gigi! This is one of my favorite "Caramels" as it is spicy and full of cinnamon and ginger flavor...it is a wonderful contrast to the tart lemon flavor.
  11. I never would have thought to use tahini to replace dairy but it obviously works wonders! These look spectacular!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Mary! Yes, the combo of creamy tahini with creamy coconut butter makes these smooth, rich and downright shocked my taste testers! They are very rich and 2 or 3 bites really does satisfy!
  12. Brandi, you constantly amaze me with your creativity! Words cannot describe how luscious these look. I love caramel and I love lemon bars. I cannot WAIT to make these!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Meredith, you are always the sweetest! I am making your soba noodle recipe soon, can't wait!! xo
  13. Georgous tasty special bars, but maple syrup is. Not raw, right? Great minds think alike. I published no-bake vegan gluten-free strawberry cheesecake tartlets with a cashew caramel on top! X
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thanks Sophie! I put (agave would work too). :) Most people who follow strict raw diets know to use agave or coconut nectar. But I put agave in parenthesis if somebody wants to not use syrup, easy peasy! I'll have to check out your tartlets! Cashew caramel sounds good!
  14. My pant size went up just looking at these ;-)! They look gorgeous all swirly and creamy like that!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Annie! Thank God only a couple of bites are needed to satisfy, I'm totally serious too!
  15. Brandi, you are absolutely incredible. I love that all of your taste testers said that this tasted as rich as full fat lemon bars. I can tell just by the photos how rich, creamy and indulgent this must be. I need to get my hands on some tahini.
  16. These lemon bars look utterly incredible :D Delicious delicious delicioussssss! Cheers Choc Chip Uru
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thanks so much Uru!
  17. Wow. Finally getting a chance to check out your spicy take on tahini caramel -- looks absolutely gorgeous! Seriously, this has all the best flavors in one. And I'm one not to mind a stronger tahini flavor btw {I eat that stuff with a spoon out of the jar like it's my job :) }, though I can imagine the raw guru tahini being absolutely amazing in this :)
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Oh Audrey, I'm so sorry I missed this comment a few weeks ago! Thank you so much for your kind compliments! These are amazing and to die for and so creamy and the spicy tahini caramel is just magical as a contrast the the bright citrus flavor!
  18. Love these bars so much! I've made them twice now and both times they have been incredible. The tahini is a wonderful complement to the lemon and coconut and they are definitely rich enough to stop you from eating the whole recipe at once. I didn't have almonds but I had almond flour, so I used that instead and it worked perfectly. I also ran out of maple syrup (guess I'm going to the store soon!) and used agave and it's just as good! I figured those were safe substitutions ;) Thanks, Brandi, for another delicious recipe!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      Thank you so much Courtney! I'm so happy to hear that these were such a hit and that you've made them twice now, thank you! So glad the agave worked as well, they are pretty interchangeably and for a raw dessert, agave always works awesome in flavor. Thanks again!
  19. Sometimes you just need a special little dessert! I had intended to take it to an omnivore gathering but I didn't allow myself enough time. Now I am glad. That meant my husband and I had to eat it all by ourselves! Wow! Couldn't have worked out better! Very tasty and I highly recommend!
    • brandi.doming@yahoo.com
      So glad you loved these! And so sorry I missed this comment before!

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