Dairy-Free Raspberry Coconut Cream Bars

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Raspberry cream barsBerries are still going full force at the market, and after three chocolate-loaded recipes in a row, I figured it’s time to give it a rest and create something that allows summer’s bounty to shine in a way that’s not fussy or overly complicated.

These bars are made with a slightly sweet graham cracker crust and topped with a full-bodied coconut cream that’s whirled with raspberries and lemon zest, making this a perfect summer treat for those hot, sticky days when you want something light and refreshing, without all the work.

Raspberry cream bars

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Edits-1127One of my favorite things about recipes like this is how easy they are to customize and make your own. Not a fan of lemon juice? Replace it with a teaspoon of vanilla extract or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean. Raspberries make you cringe? Blueberries or peaches would work just the same, except you’ll want to finely chop them before adding them to the cream mixture. If you’re trying to steer clear of refined sugar, you can replace the powdered sugar with equal amounts of your favorite liquid sweetener (maple syrup, coconut nectar, etc.), but take note that the bars won’t hold their shape as well. And if you’d prefer a gluten-free crust, give this raw oat-walnut crust a whirl.

In the event you want to take these guys on the go, they make delicious single-serving parfaits. I like to do two layers of graham cracker crumbs, raspberry cream, fresh raspberries, and a pinch of shredded coconut for good measure. I also use an extra half-pint of raspberries to help fill out the parfaits. But the best part? They can be eaten much sooner than the bars, as they don’t need any time to set.

Dairy-Free Raspberry Coconut Cream Bars

Makes 8 bars

Crust:

  • 18 5-by-2.5-inch original graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter

Filling:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon, optional
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries, divided

Directions:

  1. Line a 6- or 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper (the bigger the pan, the thinner your bars will be) and set aside.
  2. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the graham crackers into a fine meal, then pour in the melted butter and blend just until the butter is incorporated.
  3. Transfer the graham cracker mixture to the prepared pan and, using your hands, press it  into the bottom until it’s packed and firm; set aside.
  4. Remove the can of full fat coconut milk from the refrigerator. Open it and use a small spoon to scrape the thick, white layer of cream off the top of the can. Place it in a medium-sized bowl and discard the water or save it for later use (I enjoy it in smoothies).
  5. Using a hand mixer on high speed, beat the coconut cream just until the larger clumps start to smooth out, then add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest (if using) and about 3/4 of the half-pint of raspberries (you’ll want to save a few to decorate the top). Mix just until the raspberries are combined and the mixture is light pink in color.
  6. Pour raspberry cream over the graham cracker crust and level with a spoon. Top with remaining raspberries and a handful of shredded coconut if you’ve got it around.
  7. Cover the pan and transfer to refrigerator to set for at least 6 hours. If you’re in a hurry, they will firm up in the freezer after about 2 hours. Cut into 8 segments and serve. Leftover bars will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days and frozen bars will keep (in an airtight container) for up to 6 weeks.

Photo Credit: Ashlae Warner

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