Before I met these vegan lemon squares, silken tofu had 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.
Enter the Vegan Lemon Squares!
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.
Vegan lemon squares become vegan “anything” squares
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?
** 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
- 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.)
- 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.
- Insert into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Let cool completely on a rack (run a knife all around the pan to loosen after about 15 minutes) before cutting into 16 squares.
Adapted from Whole Living.