I have a lot of family and we all love to eat. There is an eclectic mix of food-related lifestyle choices within the fam-jam including omnivores, part- and full-time vegetarians and vegans, as well as one long-term exclusive raw foodist. At our gatherings – of which there are many – there is no shortage of gourmet and mouth-watering eats that inevitably lull us all into a satisfying food coma. To appease the various food preferences a wide selection of salads, soups, entrees, sides and desserts are prepared.
We recently had a gathering at my mom’s house for my aunt’s surprise birthday party. When contemplating what to contribute I opened the fridge and noticed the trillion lemons I had in my crisper drawer. You know what they say about when life gives you lemons? No, I did not make lemonade – that’s in another post. Instead, I decided to make these creamy and zesty lemon dessert cups. These are high calorie treats – there is no doubt about that – but they are healthy substitutes to the traditional lemon squares made with loads of butter, and bleached sugar and flour.
I used to hate lemon desserts. As far as I was concerned lemons didn’t belong in the food I ate after dinner. Chocolate all the way to satisfy that sweet tooth! I made my case about that here. Lemons in my mind served only to flavour water or boost Vitamin C in the vegetable soup my mom would make when I was sick. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to realize that the one thing consistent about life is change.
I’ll admit I’ve changed my mind about lemon desserts – there is something unexplainably gratifying about them now. Maybe it’s an acquired thing, I don’t know. I mean I still prefer chocolate, but thought I’d share this recipe for the weirdos that prefer lemon desserts over chocolate ones… or you know, if you have too many lemons in the fridge like I did.
Pro Tip: although optional, I highly recommend soaking the raw nuts before using them in this recipe. This will not only ensure a more creamy filling, but may also provide other health benefits; learn more about the benefits of soaking nuts in this PUL article.
Zesty Lemon Cream Cups
▸ ▹ Vegan, raw, gluten-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free
Yields: 24 cups
Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 1 hr 15 min
INGREDIENTS: THE BASE
1/3 cup (45 g) raw almonds
1/3 cup (40 g) raw walnuts
2/3 cup (50 g) shredded coconuts, unsweetened
12 soft medjool dates (if hard soak in warm water for 10 minutes first, then drain)
1/8 tsp salt
INGREDIENTS: THE CREAM FILLING
1.5 cups (225 g) raw cashews
5 lemons, juice and zest (zest of one lemon reserved)
8 soft medjool dates (if hard soak in warm water for 10 minutes first, then drain)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) pure vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS: THE BASE
In a food processor blend the almonds and walnuts into a course flour.
Add in the shredded coconuts, dates and salt and continue to blend until the mixture sticks together. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides as needed.
Scoop about half a teaspoon of the mixture into the base of a 24-cup mini muffin pan and press down firmly.
Place the mixture in the freezer to set while making the cream filling.
DIRECTIONS: THE CREAM FILLING
In the rinsed food processor, add the cashews, lemon juice, lemon zest (reserve the zest of one lemon for garnish), dates, and vanilla extract. Blend for several minutes until a soft cream is formed.
Add the cream filling to the mini muffin pan and fill to the top.
Sprinkle the top with shredded coconut and the reserved lemon zest for garnish.
Place the pan in the freezer for approx. 1 hour to set.
To remove the cups, simply slide a butter knife around the edge while applying slight inward pressure and the cups should pop up.
Place the cups on a plate or in a container and continue to freeze until serving.
Optional: if you don't have mini-muffin pans you can use larger muffin pans or press the mixture into an 8" square baking dish and cut into squares after freezing.
Recommended: Soak the nuts in water before using in this recipe, even if for 10 minutes. Several hours is optimal although not necessary.
These can be enjoyed cold straight out of the freezer but for maximum creaminess it’s best to let them sit until they soften before serving. Then they just melt in your mouth. Enjoy!
Did You Try This Recipe?
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