To this day, the recipe for the gluten free Lemon Bars with Pistachio Crust from our book gets brought up most often by my family and friends. During the beginning stages of work on the book, Paloma liked to play a game of flipping through our working binder with recipe photos, much like through a menu in a restaurant, pointing out what she would like to eat that day. The Lemon Bars were pointed out by her little fingers time and time again. A friend of mine, who has been devotedly cooking through the book, has made many variations of these bars, once even turning them into a chocolate-citrus birthday cake. Needless to say, they are a hit.
With so many new amazing cookbooks coming out, it’s been a while since I’ve cooked from my own book. Recently I began craving this dessert, with the tart silkiness of lemon mousse against the tender pistachio shortbread, and decided to make a variation on the original recipe. I substituted lime for lemon and added matcha for its beautiful color and lovely, mild flavor and undeniable health benefits. Since I haven’t cooked from my own finished, written recipes in a while, I was pleasantly reassured by how smoothly the process went, thanks to my editor and many hours of meticulous work and recipe testing.
I like to use whole leaf Irish moss or vegan gelatin for the mousse, both work great. The amazing translator for the French edition of the book was kind enough to adapt the recipe using agar-agar for our French readers as well, since the aforementioned thickeners are not easily accessible in France.
Paloma and I are getting ready to travel to Russia for the summer. We are both very excited to see family and friends, drive to the mountains, take a few train rides, and spend a some time swimming in the Black Sea. I’m thinking about sneaking a few of these bars with us on the plane to brighten up the long flight to Moscow.
Gluten Free Matcha Lime Bars
(adapted from The Vibrant Table)
makes 18 large or 36 small bars
for the pistachio and millet shortbread
1/2 cup (80g) raw pistachio nuts or other nuts – walnuts, pecans, etc.
6 tablespoons almond butter or other nut/seed butter (pumpkin seed butter would work great here)
2 tablespoons ghee at room temperature or coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (90 g) brown rice flour
1/4 cup (45 g) millet flour
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
pinch of sea salt
for the matcha lime mousse
3/4 cup (135g) white chocolate chips (I use these vegan ones) or chopped white chocolate
2 teaspoons vegan gelatin or 1 ounce (30g) dried Irish moss
1/2 cup (75g) raw cashews – soaked for 4 hours
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, preferably homemade
zest of 2 limes or lemons
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons matcha powder, plus more for dusting on top
2 strawberries – thinly sliced, optional
to prepare and bake the shortbread
1. Place pistachios in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Mix almond butter, ghee/coconut oil with honey and vanilla until creamy. In a food processor, grind the pistachios into a meal, taking care to not turn them into butter. Combine the ground pistachios, flours, tapioca starch, and salt in a large bowl, then add the cream. Mix with a spoon until just mixed, then knead the mixture into a sticky dough with your hands.
2. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with a piece of parchment paper, extending it up all sides. Press dough into the bottom of the pan in an even layer, pricking the finished layer several times with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
4. Remove the pan from refrigerator and bake crust for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool.
to make the matcha lime mousse
1. Slowly melt white chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. Drain and rinse cashews.
2. This step varies according to the thickener you are using:
Vegan gelatin – Bring the almond milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Add vegan gelatin and whisk until dissolved. Pour into a high-speed blender, add melted chocolate, cashews, lime or lemon zest and juice, honey, coconut oil and matcha powder. Blend until very smooth.
Irish moss – Rinse Irish moss under cool water to remove as much salt and debris as you can. Place in a large bowl and soak in plenty of hot water for at least 10 minutes. Irish moss will expand significantly, so make sure that it’s completely covered with water, add more throughout if needed. Drain and rinse Irish moss again, making sure it’s completely clean. Place into a high-speed blender together with melted white chocolate, cashews, almond milk, lime zest and juice, honey, coconut oil and matcha powder. Blend until very smooth.
3. For both thickeners:
Pour the mixture into a medium bowl. Let sit in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally, until the mousse begins to thicken but is still pourable.
1. Pour or spoon the mousse over the cooled shortbread, still in the pan. Smooth the surface with a spoon if needed. Optionally, decorate with sliced strawberries. Refrigerate overnight.
2. Remove the pan from the refrigerator. Holding the ends of the parchment paper, lift the matcha bars out of the pan and carefully transfer the whole bars onto a large cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, cut into desired shape and size pieces. Wipe the knife clean after each cut. Dust with more matcha powder through a fine mesh strainer. Keep refrigerated in an air-tight container, layer parchment paper between the bars if you’re storing them on top of each other to keep from sticking.