Vegan papaya lime bars with a nutty base, creamy lime filling and topped with sweet fresh papaya! They are light, zesty and perfect for the warmer weather.
I've never been a fan of yellow paw paw so avoided anything that looked like it. However, I discovered that red papaya (a completely different species of fruit) is so much more sweeter and delicious!
Fresh and ripe papaya tastes similar to rock melon (or cantalope) as it's deliciately sweet, slightly floral and juicy! When you have a good papaya, you can easily enjoy it by the spoonful... and that's coming from me and a few other fussy eaters ;).
Many people recommend eating papaya with a squeeze of lime juice. Honestly, if it's good papaya, you won't need it. However, I wanted to play with that famous combo in this vegan dessert!
Ingredients to make papaya lime bars
This recipe is essentially a classic vegan lime bar made with cashews but with gorgeous orange papaya. I chose 8 ingredients which make the bars as tasty as possible:
- Almonds, to provide nutty crunchiness to the base
- Dates, to help the base stick together
- Cashews, as the foundation for the creamy lime filling
- Coconut yoghurt, to add some natural creaminess and tang
- Coconut oil, to help the filling set
- Rice malt syrup or maple syrup. I wanted a light coloured sweetener to maintain the light colour of the filling
- Fresh limes, for flavour
- And of course, the juiciest red papaya!
The only prep you need to do beforehand is soaking the cashews and dates. As both can be quite hard, the soak will soften them and 100% make it easier to make the bars.
To make the base for the vegan papaya bars
To create this healthier and more wholesome base, add your almonds to a food processor and blitz them until they form coarse crumbs. I always prefer adding my dry ingredients to the food processor first as it's easier on the machine (and will save you time overall).
Drain your dates then blitz them with the almonds. The mixture should be a little sticky. If it's not sticky enough, add another date and blitz it until it's the right texture.
Then press the mixture firmly into a lined loaf tin. Emphasis on FIRMLY as any gaps may mean your bars will crumble slightly when you cut them! But if they crumble, it's not the end of the world ;).
How to make a creamy vegan lime bar filling
Simply drain the cashews and add them with the rest of the ingredients (except the papaya) to a high powered blender. If you didn't soak your cashews for long enough, it will take a little more time for your mixture to reach that ultra smooth consistency.
I strongly recommend using a high powered blender if you have one. It'll turn the whole cashews into the creamiest consistency!
The cashew mixture is a little watery at this stage. However, the coconut oil will set the filling when you pop it in the fridge. For this reason, it's absolutely important you use no less than ¼ cup (60mL) of coconut oil!
Unlike oils such as olive, sunflower and usual supermarket oils, coconut oil solidifies when it's chilled. Do NOT substitute the coconut oil with liquid oils (unless you're happy with a lime smoothie instead of a creamy lime cheesecake filling).
Check out my other vegan papaya recipes:
Vegan Papaya Lime Bars
- ⅓ cup (65g) pitted dates
- ⅔ cup (105g) roasted or raw almonds, or any other nut/seed
- Pinch of any good-quality salt
- ¼ whole papaya, peeled and seeded
The day or at least 4 hours beforehand:
- Soak the dates (for the base) and cashews (for the filling) in water in seperate bowl. Cover and set aside for at least 4 hours.
To make the base:
- Add the nuts to a food processor and process until it forms coarse crumbs. Drain the dates and add them to the food processor process until everything is combined. The mixture should stick together when it is pinched between two fingers.
- Line a 20cm (8-inch) loaf tin or container with baking paper. Firmly press the base mixture into the bottom to form a crust. Set aside.
To make the filling:
- Drain the cashews. Add them and the rest of the filling ingredients (except the papaya) to a blender and blend until combined.
- Pour the filling on top of the base. Scatter the cubed papaya over the filling and gently press them into the surface. Cover and set aside the mixture in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
- Top the set slice with fresh papaya. Cut with a sharp knife and enjoy!
- The slice needs to be served chilled otherwise it will melt. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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