Sunshine in a jar

If the weather last week is any indication of what’s to come this spring and summer, bring it on. As far as I’m concerned, it can never come too soon, especially when I’ve got a long list of outdoor projects to accomplish. Yet, when I saw this weekend’s forecast (snow? scattered flurries?) this morning, my spring fever quickly took a nose dive.

Okay, so maybe the weather gods have some winter leftovers to get out of their systems before the sun starts shining again. Either way, I’m already starting to crave lighter, brighter, no-bake desserts that go along with the warmer months. One of my favourite summertime recipes involves a bright yellow lemon filling reminiscent of lemon meringue pie and made from a few simple ingredients that are lightly simmered on the stovetop and then chilled in the fridge until set.

The combination of fresh apple juice, lemons, maple syrup and almond milk never tasted so good.

Sunshine in a Jar | A Dash of Compassion

After making my lemon filling recipe in tart form for a few years now (I recall teasing you with photos last year), I decided it was time to create something just a little different. Enter my “sunshine in a jar,” a wholesome treat that layers an oat-nut crust, a fresh take on my lemon filling using meyer lemons, and a coconut whipped cream topping in individual mason jars (I used the 250ml size).

This is a great dessert for picnics or travel because you can snap on the jar lids to keep them safe from harm’s way. You could even take it a step further and decorate the jar lids with pretty fabric and ribbon for special occasions if you wanted to!

Sunshine in a Jar | A Dash of Compassion

I loved this creation so much that it may become my go-to recipe for the summer. The meyer lemons used here give the filling a sweeter taste and light, herbal fragrance, but if you can’t find them, feel free to substitute regular lemons. Enjoy!

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Sunshine in a jar

Yield: 4 (250ml) mason jar servings


For the crust:

  • 1 cup rolled oats (use certified gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp water, or as needed

For the filling:

  • 1 1/3 cup pure unsweetened apple juice
  • 3 tbsp agar flakes
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp nondairy milk
  • pinch of salt and tumeric
  • 4 tsp arrowroot
  • 1/4 cup fresh meyer lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp meyer lemon zest

For the coconut whipped cream:


For the crust:

    1. Using a food processor, process the oats, nuts and coconut flakes to a coarse meal.
    2. Add the dates and salt and process until well combined. Add water as needed to form a mixture that sticks together when pressed between two fingers.
    3. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of four 250ml mason jars.

For the lemon filling:

  1. Pour the apple juice into a saucepan and sprinkle the agar flakes on top. Swirl the pan lightly to wet all the flakes and then set aside for about 20 minutes to allow the agar to soften.
  2. In the meantime, measure out the maple syrup, 1/2 cup nondairy milk, salt and tumeric in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 2 tbsp nondairy milk and arrowroot. Finally, in another bowl or cup, measure out the meyer and regular lemon juices and zest.
  3. Heat the apple juice and agar mixture over medium heat and cover the saucepan until it comes to a boil. Uncover, reduce the heat to low, and lightly stir the mixture to release the agar flakes from the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the agar has completely dissolved.
  4. Add the maple syrup mixture to the saucepan and lightly stir for about a minute. Next, add the arrowroot mixture and whisk to combine. Increase the temperature to medium and cook only until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool before pouring evenly over top of the crust in the mason jars. Place the jars in the fridge to set, about one hour. Top with coconut whipped cream.

Lemon filling recipe adapted from Fran Costigan's More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally. After a few trials, I've learned that the coconut whipped cream thickens the longer it sits in the fridge, so it's best to make this ahead.



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