Vegan Lemon Squares Recipe

Silken tofu has always stumped me.

Regular, firm tofu, I know what to do with — most often I pat it dry, cube it, and sauté it until golden brown and crisp, to be served over puréed, roasted, or stir-fried vegetables.

But silken tofu, with its strange, curd-like texture and the whey that pools at the bottom of the tub (is it part of the tofu? should I use it? not use it?), has always felt like a riddle. More times than I care to admit it, I’ve bought a package only to use half of it and throw out the rest, for lack of a timely, suitable recipe to use it in.

This is why I was so pleased to clip out not just one, but two uncommonly appealing recipes using silken tofu from the September issue of Whole Living: one for Beets and Kale with Creamy Tofu Dressing, and one for Lemon Coconut Tofu Squares.

It is the loveliest of three-bite desserts: the crust crumbly just so, the lemon topping slightly chewy, and the perfect balance of sweet and tart.

The former I’m keeping under my elbow, as we French say, for when I finally lay my eager little hands on a bunch of Parisian kale*, which I plan to order from Bob’s Juice Bar as soon as I get my act together. But the latter I tried right away, and served it to friends — one of them my son’s godmother — who had come to lunch on a sunny Sunday.

It was wonderfully easy to put together: a crust made with coconut oil that you press into the pan and par-bake, and a lemon filling that is prepared by mixing silken tofu with sugar, lemon juice**, and a touch of flour.

Once cooled and cut into squares — I made sixteen where the recipe suggested twelve — it is the loveliest of three-bite desserts: the crust crumbly just so, the lemon topping slightly chewy, and the perfect balance of sweet and tart.

I feel doubly gratified because this is a two-in-one recipe: the crust is particularly good and could be used for all sorts of tarts and fruit squares. With the rest of the package of silken tofu I made a dairy-free yogurt cake (oxymoron, I know!), substituting tofu for the yogurt, and nobody noticed a thing.

What do you like to do with silken tofu? Any favorite idea or recipe to share?

* For the longest time, kale has been a most elusive vegetable in Paris, but thanks to the efforts of a few enthusiasts, it looks like it’s about to finally become more readily available.

** I actually used yuzu juice for this inaugural batch, because I had a bottle on hand brought back from Japan by my friend Chika-san.

Vegan Lemon Squares Recipe

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Makes sixteen 5-cm (2-inch) squares.

Vegan Lemon Squares Recipe

Ingredients

    For the crust:
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar (I use unrefined blond cane sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I use my homemade vanilla extract)
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) coconut oil (slightly heated as needed to make it liquid)
  • 200 grams (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour (I use the French T65 flour)
  • For the filling:
  • 130 grams (1/2 cup) silken tofu
  • 120 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) sugar (I use unrefined blond cane sugar, which makes the filling caramel-colored rather than lemon yellow)
  • 1 teaspoon roasted lemon zest powder (substitute 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 20 grams (2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour (I use the French T65 flour)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
  2. Grease the sides of a square 20-by-20-cm (8-by-8-inch) cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easier removal. (I just used a pan with a removable bottom.)
  3. Make the crust: in a medium bowl, beat together the sugar, salt, vanilla, and coconut oil. Fold in the flour, mixing it in just until the mixture forms coarse crumbs with no trace of flour. (This can be done in short pulses in a food processor.) Pour into the prepared pan and press gently with your fingers to form an even layer.
  4. Insert into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile, make the filling: in the bowl, whisk the tofu with the sugar and lemon zest. Whisk in the juice. The mixture will look a little curdled, but that's okay -- just try to whisk it as smooth as you can. Add the baking powder and flour, and whisk just to combine. (This can be also done in a food processor or blender.)
  6. Pour over the par-baked crust, tilt the pan gently from one side to the other so the filling covers all the surface, and return to the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, until set.
  7. Let cool completely on a rack (run a knife all around the pan to loosen after about 15 minutes) before cutting into 16 squares.

Notes

Adapted from Whole Living.

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  • http://pickyeaterblog.com/ Anjali @ The Picky Eater

    What a great use of tofu!! I’ve always wanted to try making vegan lemon squares, but never thought I could find an adequate substitute for the eggs required to make the custardy part of it :) Thanks for the inspiration, can’t wait to try this!

  • marieta

    So glad to see vegan recipes on your blog. My favorite way to eat silken tofu is as hiyayakka, a simple chilled slab of silken tofu immersed in a dashi and topped with some grated ginger. This begs for top quality silken tofu, which I have yet to find in Paris. Eagerly awaiting your kale recipe…thanks to Bob’s Juice Bar I can stop forraging for mine in the ornamental gardens of Paris !

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Oh, yes, that’s really good! I’ve actually done that following my friend Chika’s (her again!) tofu à la mode lead. As for top-quality silken tofu, you’ll find some at Hisada cheese shop at 47 rue de Richelieu ! The owner makes it herself. Let me know if you try it!

  • http://www.cowenparkkitchen.blogspot.com Cowen Park Kitchen

    My newest favorite way to use soft or silken tofu is to toast sunflower seeds (although, it could be done with peanuts or sesame seeds) and blend with tofu and miso, plus a dash of vinegar until smooth. Nice dip for veggies or a unique salad topper, or a great dressing for noodles.

  • eleyne

    I always use it instead of ricotta for your swiss chard pie which has become a staple for thanksgiving and parties. the use of silken tofu in place of the ricotta means that the dairy can be kept low (for those lactose sensitives) and I actually end up enjoying the texture a bit more – it’s a smooth custard without the sometimes grainy ricotta. here’s your archive link, although it looks like the actual recipe is not a part of the post any more
    it’s also decent for quick protein in a smoothie.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for the suggestion! The recipe of that Swiss chard pie is actually in the post itself — not formatted as a classic recipe with an ingredients list and bulletted steps.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/vp/ Stephie

    So far all I’ve done with the silken tofu is make pudding (it makes great pudding) but I also want to use it for mayo replacement (when I don’t have plain yogurt, great in noodle salads) and a healthier cheese sauce for mac & cheese. Just haven’t worked out the details yet, and I worry because the silken tofu has a shorter shelf life when open than the firm type does.

    I’m thinking it would be good for a healthier pumpkin pie too (use it instead of the sweetened condensed milk), need to try that.

    I really like your lemon bars recipe so I’ll be adding that to my list to try. They look yummy.

  • Ellen

    Thanks for the recipe! In terms of other ideas for what to do with silken tofu, it’s is good for eating raw, topped with yummy things–hiyayakko, in Japanese. Common toppings in Japan include bonito flakes, grated ginger, and a tiny bit of soy sauce–but there are all sorts of possibilities.

  • http://www.boulderneigh.blogspot.com Michelle

    Looks fabulous!

    I use Silken Tofu to make healthier cream-like sauces all the time.

  • Caroline

    Hm they look good! I only buy silken tofu to make my favorite stew ever: the Korean soondubu stew. Aeriskitchen has a great recipe for that. Sooo good, I could eat it every day!

  • Wendy

    Can’t wait to try the lemon bars! I also use silken tofu in chocolate pie. It simple and quick but tastes decadent.

  • http://shewhoeats.blogspot.com/ chika

    hi clotilde, lemon squares are one of my favorite treats ever, and can’t wait to try this tofu version… perhaps even with fresh yuzu that’ll soon arrive here!! :) did the bottled yuzu juice work alright? you could maybe use the rest for hiyayakko or yudofu (warmed tofu) with some soy sauce.

    i, too, prefer firm tofu to the silken kind in general, and the only time i really get it is for hiyayakko, and indeed, yudofu (but even for those i can happily eat firm ones). i know people use silken tofu in all sorts of cakes and desserts such as cheesecake and mousse, but my favorite thing to use it in is shiratama dango – you make the dumplings with silken tofu in place of water. they won’t taste very different from the regular dango, but the tofu-based ones are supposed to stay soft for longer. if you like shiratama dango (i do!) and ever find yourself feeling not sure what to do with your leftover silken tofu, it’ll be worth a try :)

  • jc

    Delicious vegan food is one reason why the number of vegans has doubled in less than 3 years. Here are two uplifting videos that will help people understand just some of the implications of this lifestyle.

  • Xie

    I’m one of Japanese fan of C&Z.
    Your recipes looks always so attractive!

    Just for tips about silken or soft tohu, especially in case of using as it is; like chilled hiya-yakko, or warmed yudohu; I recommend you to soak tohu in fresh filtered water or pure natural soft water for 1 to 2 hours in your fridge, before cook.
    If you once change the water during soaking, it will be more better.

    As for 80 percents of tohu is moisture, to replace the water included in it with fresh good water makes tohu more delicious.
    With the same reason, you’d better not to use the whey that pools at the bottom of the tub.
    It is rather old water drained from tohu.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That’s very good to know, Xie, thank you so much!

  • christiana

    I too love tofu but have always been stumped with how to use the silken variety! The lemon squares sound delicious, will give them a try..thanks Clotilde and thanks to all the other readers comments for other ideas to try.
    I love the C&Z community!

  • Rebecca

    I use silky tofu as a protein source for smoothies – it gives them a wonderful thick, creamy texture, almost like an ice cream shake.

  • Kiri

    Hi Clotilde,
    We love silken tofu in our Japanese broths with udon or soba.
    Our family favourite (comfort food) is a block of steamed silken tofu, sliced into big blocks and topped with freshly fried shallots, soy sauce and spring onions.
    It has such a lovely smooth texture that’s absolutely delightful!

  • Aisha

    Silken tofu? ? I feel it’s easier to eat than the firm version because you can so easily eat it raw as it is so flavorful. When I used to live in Malaysia, a favorite after-school snack was tau fu fa, soft custardy blocks of silken tofu swimming in a brown sugar, molasses or finger-flavored syrup. Warm or room temperature, very fulfilling.

    Nowadays, I make my own version by pouring warm leftover tea (especially ginger or earl grey) over blocks of tofu and sweeten it with molasses. Yum!

    • http://mariev.net/blog m @ random musings

      My favorite way to eat is as a desert or sweet snack; topped with a simple syrup. Re. Shelf life vs the firm stuff – for both types , regularly changing the water will help freshness a lot. Unlike yogurt the goal is .not. to nurture bacteria. This is not an active culture !

  • Sarah R

    silken tofu is good for whenever you want a smooth/ creamy quality from your tofu – ie soups, smoothies, desserts. I recently tried out Heidi Swanson’s dairyless chocolate mousse from Super Natural Cooking for a dinner I was hosting with a newly vegan friend, and it was a huge hit. You would never guess in a million years it was vegan.

  • Jo

    Hi Clotilde, this is a common traditional homey Chinese dish and this is how we usually cook our silken tofu.

  • marieta

    I’ve made a version of chawan mushi (a japanese steamed egg cup dish) which uses silk tofu instead of egg. It is studded with vegetables; shitake, carrot, ginko, trefoil and lily root. The tofu is blended with dashi, soy sauce and sake to make the custard. Just wonderful, and worth the effort. Found the recipe in a favorite shojin cookbook called “The Heart of Zen Cuisine”.

  • http://www.cozydelicious.com Katie@Cozydelicious

    I have been trying to figure out what to do with silken tofu forever! I finally just bought some yesterday am excited to try this recipe!

  • tony

    Ah Clotilde – silken tofu may also be used in a savoury way – slightly warm with a little soy sauce on top with some grated fresh ginger and wasabi. Very simple. very delicious!

  • Kim

    I love silken tofu though I’ve never used it like this. Lemon squares sound delicious!
    I use it to make a cheaters version of dau hu nuoc duong, which is soft custardy tofu in a gingery brown sugar sauce. Its my fav dessert.
    Sometimes I’ll steam a block of silken tofu and then top it with sauteed shrimp and green onions in XO sauce. I find that the mild bean flavor works well with pungent or spicy flavors.

  • http://forkandwhisk.com Fork and Whisk

    Interesting, I would have never thought to have had tofu in lemon squares. Inventive.

  • ella

    yep, similar to others I love silken tofu lightly steamed, then chilled and served with a splash of soy, seasame oil and dark Chinese vinegar + a flurry of chopped spring onions and seasame seeds to finish. I have also made a nice dairy-free chocolate mousse using pureed silken tofu, a small glug of olive oil, melted dark chocolate, orange zest and a little sugar to taste. It sets beautifully. Have also used it in a vegan, sweet pumpkin pie, subbing in pureed tofu for the eggs in the filling. Restaurant preparations like Agedashi Tofu and Mapo Tofu are delicious too, but have never attempted them at home.

  • Amy

    I like silk tofu in mapo tofu instead of firm tofu, partly because that’s how my family makes it and partly because it tastes more custardy and comforting. It’s a little spicy yet it slides down the throat. You take a standard mapo tofu recipe that includes cornstarch slurry at the end to thicken it, and it just tastes so good over a bowl of warm rice :)…

  • Sue Kyne

    Silken Tofu is a wonderful savoury protein – just warm slightly and then gently heat a small amount of vegetable oil,finely chopped ginger, finely chopped garlis, finely chopped green onion and finely chopped chilli. Pour the tasty oil mix over the warm silken tofu and enjoy

  • Organic Passion Catering

    I have many silken tofu recipes but let me share just one simple and very delicious recipe with you. Chocolate mousse.
    Melt 70% (cocoa solids) dark chocolate and add 1 tsp agar agar, stir and allow the agar agar to ‘melt’ (approx 1-2 mins).
    Then add to a blender; a tsp or two vanilla paste, silken tofu and whizz. Spoon in melted chocolate and blend, scrapping down the sides.
    Pour into gorgeous tumblers and place in the fridge to set (1 hr) Top with favourite berries or shaved dark chocolate. Divine!

  • Anna

    Oh that is a nice way to veganise lemon squares! Thank you for the recipe :)
    I have made a custard tart with silken tofu a couple of times (delicious every time!), using this recipe. There are also a few other recipes using silken tofu on Tofufortwo.

  • stephanie

    I have made the lemon bars at least a half dozen times and they are delicious!!!! Everyone loves them. A go to snack / treat recipe in my repertoire. The crust is absolutely delicious – you can eat it without the topping!!! A great recipe and a great way to become familiar with silken tofu. Thank you.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That’s wonderful to hear, Stephanie, thanks for reporting back!

  • Jillian

    Delicious! I just made these an hour or two ago and they are very good! Would recommend to anybody period. vegan or not. Although if making some for more than two or three people I would recommend doubling the recipe for about 28 2×2″ squares.. may sound like a lot but a person could easily eat 2,3, or 4. And you can always keep your leftovers, plus the doubled mixture fits nicely in a 12×8.5″ baking pan. Just my experience, thought I’d share! Also might suggest adding some coconut flakes or nuts on top right towards the end of baking or right out of the oven, or maybe some powdered sugar once cooled! Just some extra add-ons or ideas! Thanks for the yummy vegan dessert recipe!! :D Have a happy & safe GREAT NEW YEAR!!! Jillian

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks so much for reporting back with your comments and modifications, Jillian, and happy new year!

  • Norma

    Hi Clotilde – delighted to see you are using silken tofu. As a vegan I’m interested in your website and recipes because a) the French love flavour and good food, and b) vegan cooking is seen by many as being bland and boring (which it absolutely need not be!). I want to combine French flavour and flair in my food, so that it is anything but boring – so I very often look at ways of veganising your recipes :) One very successful way I use silken tofu is as a topping for a vegan moussaka: silken tofu, a big glug of olive oil, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, salt. All blended together, tasted for seasoning and spread on top of a tvp mince moussaka (cooked with cinnamon, wine, tomatoes, herbs and nutmeg), and then pine nuts sprinkled on top, which toast in the oven. Delicious! I’ll be delighted to see what other vegan recipes you come up with – the lemon bars look and sound wonderful.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks, Norma! Perhaps you’ll be interested in my upcoming book, The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian (and many vegan!) Recipes from my Parisian Kitchen.

      And thanks for the moussaka idea, it sounds fantastic.

  • victoria

    These were so delicious! Thank you!

    I made them once as written, and had some luck making them gluten free for a family member by subbing in 3/4 cup sweet sorghum flour, 1/2 cup coconut flour and 1/4 cup tapioca starch (total weight was still close to 200g) for the flour in the crust and tapioca starch to firm up the filling. The GF version was a bit more crumbly but still held its own once the filling set – just figured I’d share for anyone else that’s gluten free.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      So helpful — thank you for sharing, Victoria!

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