Friday, August 7, 2009

Sugar-free Lemon Squares on Almond Shortbread

Lemons are sunshine on this rainy day! Actually, this sunny fruit any day makes it a happy one. They are my favorite dessert ingredient and Lemon Squares rank near the top of my list of lemony treats. Even though their preparation is a two-step process (first you bake the crust), all the steps are very easy and take minimal effort. This cookie bar is extremely low-carb because almond flour replaces the regular high-carb wheat flour in the crust, which adds flavor and heart-healthy Vitamin E and monounsaturated fats. The use of Splenda instead of sugar performs perfectly in this recipe, further reducing the carbs until the final result is a tiny 4 net carbs per serving! Have a cup of tea, relax and enjoy....

My Sugar-free Lemon Squares on Almond Shortbread
Makes 12 servings

For crust
1 cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Splenda granular (not baking blend)
¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into several pieces
2 teaspoons canola oil

For filling
2 eggs
¾ cup Splenda granular (not baking blend)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (or more if you like it tart)
¼ teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Prepare an 8” x 8” baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, measure almond flour, 2 teaspoons flour, salt, Splenda, lemon zest and mix together with a fork. Add cold butter and, using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour mixture until the butter is well distributed and mixture looks like coarse crumbs. One teaspoon at a time, drizzle canola oil over mixture and stir in using a fork. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking pan and bake for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make filling: Put eggs and Splenda into a medium mixing bowl and beat briskly with a wire whisk for about 1 minute until light yellow and slightly thickened. Add the flour, lemon juice, lemon zest and baking powder and beat until well incorporated. Pour over crust and return to oven to bake for 20 minutes or until set and edges begin to brown. Remove to wire rack and cool completely. Optional: Dust lightly with 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar before serving.

Nutritional Information per serving (1/12th of recipe): 109 calories, 5 g carbohydrates, 9 g total fat, 2.3 g saturated fat, 1 g fiber, 3.1 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

How does this compare with a traditional Lemon Square recipe? My recipe is far lower in carbohydrates and calories. Also, it has less saturated fat, more fiber and protein. Even though it is higher in total fat, because of the almond flour, my recipe is rich in Vitamin E and monounsaturated fat, which are good for your heart and overall health. For comparison, the nutritional information for the same size Lemon Square made from a traditional recipe is 165 calories, 25.7 g carbohydrates, 6.6 g total fat, 3.75 g saturated fat, 0.3 g fiber, 2.2 g protein.

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