Blood orange bars with pine nut crust and thyme

My sister was home this past week, and I wanted to bake her something special. Lemon bars have been her favorite treat since we were kids, but she hasn’t been able to eat them since she went vegan. Typical lemon bars have lots of egg and butter. I found these blood oranges in season and was inspired to try this vegan spin on a classic lemon bar.

These are made with Miyoko’s cultured butter and a coconut cream-based orange curd, thickened with cornstarch and flour. The texture is just like a classic lemon bar – creamy, luscious curd on a rich, buttery crust. And by the way, between the fragrant orange and thyme, you don’t taste the coconut flavor at all.

The thyme and pine nuts are optional but highly recommended – they add another dimension of flavor and make these bars feel a little more fancy and unique.

Ingredients – base

  • 1 stick butter or vegan butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, crushed

Ingredients – filling

  • 1/2 cup of fresh blood orange
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Segments from 1 blood orange, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon blood orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 sprig thyme, optional

For serving

  • Powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8×8 baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter. Using a mortar and pestle, gently pound pine nuts a few times to break into pieces. In a large bowl, combine ingredients for crust. Gently press into the pan and bake for 16-17 minutes or until edges are just slightly browned.
  3. In a medium saucepan, add all filling ingredients and whisk until cornstarch is mixed in. Cook over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes or until mixture resembles a thick lemon curd, whisking occasionally.
  4. Moving quickly, remove sprig of thyme and pour mixture into pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Cool overnight in fridge.
  5. Using the edges of the parchment paper, lift bars out of pan and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar. Store covered, in fridge, for upto a week.

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