Quarky Lemon Blueberry bars (Gluten-free)

When I set out to make something, it’s usually just to make a healthier version of a dish I already know how to make…this one just happened to ALSO be gluten free!  Woohoo-not my original intention, but I have some friends who will be VERY happy once they have a taste because these are DELICIOUS.

I’m sure a few of you are asking: ” Why are they called Quarky bars? Pfff hello-SPELLING?” Well, it’s correct, trust me. I used quark to make these.  I know-next question: “What is quark?”. I asked that too.

Quark is all over Germany and pretty common in Europe. It’s a fresh dairy product, kind of like a ricotta cheese. It is not however, like ricotta, because ricotta is cooked and quark is just warmed and strained. It’s not like cottage cheese because that is made with rennet, quark is not. It’s basically a great cheesy and silky low fat replacement for high fat creamy cheeses as it doesn’t have a lot of flavour (so can be used in sweet and savoury dishes), no added salt and it’s high in protein! Yes, I’ll eat quark thank you.

I had picked wild blueberries with my kids so we had tons of them just waiting to be eaten-they’re SO GOOD.  Tiny little pockets of sweet sweet goodness. And I had a couple of lemons, so naturally-these bars were born.

I have been wanting to come up with a healthier crust though, something that is not full of butter and flour or graham crackers…and well, I’m pretty sure I’ve done it! It holds up well to the topping and these bars can be cut up into tiny squares for a little bite of dessert without falling apart. Oh YES-did I mention no refined sugar in these either?  I should have because that’s AWESOME.

Crust:
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup ground oats
Pinch salt
3-4 tbsp coconut oil, room temperature
3-4 tbsp date paste
(I whizzed up dates in my blender)

Filling:
375g 0.25% Quark (1 small container)
Zest and juice from two lemons
2 eggs
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup fresh wild blueberries

Pre heat oven to 350.

Grind up the almonds if you haven’t bought them already ground.  As fine as you can, but not almond butter. Then pulse up your oatmeal too. Mix it together with a pinch of salt.
If you don’t have date paste, just blend up some dates. That’s what I did. I let mine sit in some water for about half an hour and used that water to help loosen up the process.

Add about 3 tbsp of coconut oil and 3 tbsp of the date paste to the almond mixture and mash around with a fork.  It will come together, but if you need a bit more, add the extra tablespoons.  You want to be able to squish it together with your fingers and have it hold together, but it shouldn’t be wet.

Press into an 8 x 8 pan.  (I used a 7 x 11 pan, but they’re both 2 quarts and I’m sure it will turn out fine).
Bake crust in pan for 10 minutes. Let cool. Ooo-this would make an awesome pie crust too…anyway…

While the crust is baking, whisk up the filling ingredients minus the blueberries.
Pour filling onto the cooled crust. Sprinkle with blueberries.

Bake for 35 minutes or until just the very middle is slightly jiggly and let cool.
Try not to eat the entire pan. Did I mention my kids loved these too? They did. It was sort of gross how much they shoved into their little mouths at once. But I’ll take it as a compliment.

I found it was best after sitting in the fridge for a few hours and getting REALLY cold, but it’s also really good after sitting at room temperature for a bit.  Although just try not to eat this immediately while it’s sitting in front of you. Just try.

I would tell you it’s good left in the fridge for a week but there’s no way it will last that long. And it certainly didn’t in my fridge so no guarantee.

There you have it! Go get quarky!