This lemon slice is a traditional Australian no bake bar with a coconut-cookie base and lemon frosting. It's really easy to make, with a wonderful sweet-tart flavor and perfect for so many occasions.
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As we were looking in to possibly moving to Melbourne for a little while, naturally I did some research to learn more about the city. And of course high up on my list was the food options.
I didn't particularly look at the fine dining, though Melbourne is meant to be have a good range (but hey, young kids). What appealed to me was the range of cuisines and many cafes.
Melbourne is a huge coffee city. In fact, I believe the "flat white" is meant to be a Melbourne creation. You'll find cafes everywhere and pretty much all of them, from those I have tried so far, have really good coffee.
While you may just pop in for a quick caffeine hit, it's all too easy to fall for the sweet goods on offer. Some are similar to what you'd find in many other parts of the world, like croissants, muffins and brownies, but others are uniquely Australian, like lamingtons and slices.
What is an Australian slice?
One item you'll find in many cafes and bakeries in Australia is one or more kind of "slice". Slices are similar to what would be called a bar cookie in the US, or a tray bake in the UK.
Australian slices are typically made in a slightly deeper baking sheet/tray then cut them into pieces. They come in many varieties, some baked (like my chocolate slice) while others are no bake.
Some slices certainly seem to have British origins, and some like chocolate caramel slice is essentially the same as millionaire's shortbread, popular in Scotland (where it likely originates). Vanilla slice, meanwhile, which is similar to a napoleon in the US, more likely comes from the French mille-feuille.
Many slices, though, are quite definitely Australian, whether based on classic Aussie cookies or an otherwise original creation like jelly slice. A lot are recipes you would make and serve at home or bake sales. You'll find recipes shared through the likes of the popular Australian Women's Weekly and down family generations.
Cafes often have one or more on offer, some classics and others their own creations. This tasty slice is one I've seen a few times, and I understand why it's a favorite.
You'll find a couple different variations of lemon slice, some more like lemon bars but more common is this no bake version using coconut in the base. It's sweet with that wonderful tart lemon edge and perfect to make at home since it's really easy.
I've made a smaller batch here in a lined baking dish as that suits our needs better, but you can easily scale this up as needed.
Tips for making lemon slice
While really easy, here are a few tips for making them:
- The exact dimensions of your dish don't matter, it's about having a similar area. You can scale up the recipe as suits, just multiply the recipe to match the increase in area of your dish. So for example if it's around double the size, even if different dimensions, double the recipe.
- Butter then line the baking dish or baking sheet/tray with parchment to make it easier to take out. The butter under the parchment helps the paper stay in place better.
- Prepare the dry ingredients then melt the butter and condensed milk together. The mixture can boil, but don't let it scald.
- Press the base mixture into the dish evenly, right into the corners, and flatten the top.
- Thicken the frosting with extra confectioner's/icing sugar as needed. Alternatively, you may just need to wait a little longer for the top to firm up before cutting. (You might see I rushed a little!)
- It's easiest to take the whole slice out of the mould before cutting. Then, cut into pieces whatever size you like.
While these are typically made with Marie biscuits (cookies) that's very common in Australia, you may not find them elsewhere. However you can make them with other relatively plain cookies/biscuits such as graham crackers in the US or digestive biscuits in the UK (although you can typically find Marie biscuits there).
Similarly, I've used desiccated coconut as that's more common in Australia but in the US, if you can't find that easily, unsweetened shredded coconut is fine as well.
This lemon slice is easy to make, easy to scale up for a crowd and full of delicious flavor. It was an instant favorite in our house and we can understand why it's an Australian classic. Give it a try and enjoy!
Try these other tasty no bake treats:
- Carrot cake energy bites
- No bake pumpkin cookies
- No bake chocolate custard with ginger
- Plus get more snack recipes, both sweet and savory, in the archives.
- 135 g Marie cookies in Australia: Arnott's Marie biscuits, 16 cookies/biscuits (see notes)
- 45 g desiccated coconut
- ½ lemon zest (ie from ½ lemon)
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 80 ml sweetened condensed milk
- 15 ml lemon juice
- 110 g confectioner's sugar icing sugar, or a little more as needed
- 15 g unsalted butter softened
- 22 ml lemon juice
- 15 ml desiccated coconut approx, to top
- Butter a dish or deep baking sheet/tin that's approx 19 x 14cm (7 ½ x 5 ½ in) and at least 3cm (1 in) deep. Line it with parchment, on the bottom and two longer sides, overhanging the sides, pressing gently into the butter to help it stick.
- Crush the cookies/biscuits either in a food processor or by putting in a freezer bag and crushing with a rolling pin. They should be relatively fine, even crumbs. Mix the crumbs with the coconut and lemon zest in a bowl.
- Melt the butter and condensed milk together in a small pan until they just come to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients along with the lemon juice and mix well.
- Put the mixture into the prepared dish and press it down evenly, flattening the top. Refrigerate for at least an hour before adding the frosting/icing.
- When ready to frost, soft the confectioner's sugar into a small bowl and add the softened butter and lemon juice. Mix well, adding a little more sugar if too thin. Pour over the chilled slice and spread evenly. Sprinkle over the coconut then chill for an hour or two until the frosting sets.
- To cut into pieces, it's easier to loosen the short edges of the slice and lift it out of the dish in one piece. Then, cut into whatever size pieces suits (for this size, I suggest 8 pieces).
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