So I don’t know if I’ve said specifically what’s going on and why I’ve mentioned being dairy-free here on the blog. But a while ago at one of Baby B’s doctors appointments, we were talking about how well everything was going, and I happened to mention that her poop was green. Now, they tell you that the baby poop of breastfed babies can be a variety of colors and be normal, but what I didn’t know is that some of the time the color change is an indication that something is wrong. And in this case the pediatrician said that she thought B might be intolerant of milk proteins, and the best way to find that out would be for me to go off dairy, since I’m the only way B could be getting those proteins in the first place.
Some people when they find out I’m dairy free have asked if that means I can just have lactose-free things, or foods that are naturally super-low in lactose (liked aged cheeses). And sadly, the answer is no – since what Baby Girl is likely sensitive to at this point is milk protein, and lactose is milk sugar. So what I’m trying to eliminate from my diet at this time is casein and whey. No getting swole for me.
The funny thing is that as soon as I started eliminating dairy, I developed the world’s biggest sweet tooth. Since so many desserts have milk in them, dessert just felt like torture. Sure, there’s sorbet, and you can get almond milk and coconut milk ice cream, but baked goods were calling to me. But anything with butter in it (everything good) was off limits. So I started hunting for recipes. And since there was a day when we had what felt like a metric ton of lemons left lying around after a different dinner, my mind turned to lemon bars.
This particular recipe that I found is quite simple, and ingenious, I think. It’s made with coconut oil in place of the butter, and that’s just in the crust. But the combination of the coconut with a citrus fruit is seriously good – not that you can taste much of the coconut oil at all. But the bars are brightly flavored, and have both a really good crumbly crust AND lemon gel that is super tasty. So even if you’re not eating dairy-free, this is a terrific option. This won’t be my only dairy-free desert recipe though – desperate times call for much experimentation. This recipe though is particularly yummy, and a great place to start things off.
Dairy Free Lemon Squares
Yield: approx. 12 squares
12 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup lemon juice
Powdered sugar, for dusting (Note: I forgot this, but I think it would look very pretty)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
If the coconut oil is completely solid, warm it in the microwave in 10 second increments until it is softened but not liquid. Add 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and salt to a bowl and mix until combined. Add the coconut oil and mix until crumbly and the coconut oil is thoroughly integrated.
Scoop the dough into a 9×13 pan and press gently into all the corners to make an even layer. Bake your crust at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until lightly golden and looking a little dry around the edges.
While the crust is baking, make the filling (it needs to pour on top of the crust as soon as that has finished baking). In a new bowl, add eggs and egg yolks and whisk until frothy. Add the remaining 2 cups of granulated sugar, as well as the flour and lemon zest. Continue whisking until incorporated and the mixture has a consistent quality. Add the lemon juice and whisk until the filling is light in texture.
When the crust is baked, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Immediately pour the lemon filling over the crust and return it to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until filling is no longer jiggly when you wiggle the pan in the oven, then remove your lemon squares.
Cool pan on a rack until they reach room temperature, then place them in the fridge for a few hours until they have completely set. Once completely cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares.
These will keep in the fridge in a covered container for 3-7 days. Separate layers with wax paper to keep them from sticking to each other as you remove them. They will also freeze for up to a month.