Lemon desserts. To me, they’re like arm workouts, butterflies, dachshunds, and hard rock songs. I hate, hate, HATE them!!! Though I actually have a decent reason, if you’ll stop judging and hear me out. (I can feel the waves of judgement washing over me. LITERAL 6-foot tall waves. Stop, you’re getting me wet.)
When I was a wee lass, probably about 11-ish, my parents were hosting their Bible study group at our house. Sounds harmless enough, yeah? Well, except for LEMON CUSTARDS. Bite sized, phyllo shelled, creamy filling-ed tartlets- the picture of deliciousness. And they were delicious, and I must have eaten at least five, which is fine except that I had a nasty sore throat and all the sugar was helping exactly zero percent. Turns out, the sore throat was strep and now I can’t eat anything lemon flavored without painful memories of being tormented by lemon-laced throat lacerations. Yum.
However, when you’re a food blogger, sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone (way, WAY out) and try some new things. Sadly, tragically, miserably, life isn’t all peanut butter and chocolate. BOOOOOO. But I was ridiculously surprised how much I liked these lemon strawberry bars. Besides their deliciousness, they’re so easy that even Dennis could make them. Yes, even you, Dennis.
I originally planned to make these using tofu (YUM, I know) but surprise, half way through the baking process I scrambled to get some and THERE WAN’T ANY!!! So, I had to fly really, really fast by the seat of my pants and I used cream cheese. So yes, today is unplanned Round 2 of cream cheese desserts. (You’re not complaining, right???)
- 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3 Tbsp raw sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup UNmelted coconut oil (butter will probably work too)
- 2 Tbsp hot water
- 1/3 cup raw sugar
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 7 oz cream cheese
- 2/3 cup diced strawberries
- Optional: 1/4 tsp strawberry extract
Preheat oven to 350º. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in coconut oil, one tablespoon at a time. Add hot water and stir. Squish mixture into a greased 8×8 pan and bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, process raw sugar and cornstarch in a food processor (this is just to make the sugar less coarse). Add lemon juice and let process again. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Pour filling onto the crust and bake for another 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn off the oven and let sit in the over for another 15 minutes. Let it sit at room temp for about an hour, then transfer to fridge until set.