Just last weekend, I’ve put together a plated lemon meringue dessert. It is a familiar flavour of lemon and meringue but not in its typical form that I’m used to making.
This was born because I was trying to think about a dessert to make for my dad’s birthday dinner. After the feast we had (you can check out my instagram account, @Jothetartqueen, for pictures of the food, I wanted to make a lighter and refreshing dessert.
The ingredient that is most commonly associated with refreshing is citrus. Lemon came to mind immediately and I decided not to overthink it and just run with it. Meringue naturally came along with it.
The dessert plate has a few lemon and meringue components and a sweet, crumbly biscuit that brings it all together. The components are:
pâte sucrée (sweet tart)
Italian meringue, torched
baked french meringues
candied lemon peel, strips
some edible flowers (basil) from my garden
The great thing about making a plated dessert is that you have a lot of time to pre-make your elements and keep them separate for a later use. This means you have dessert sorted for the rest of the week.
I find that the sweet tart biscuit is kept extremely crumbly because the curd does not have the chance to soften it. Probably the reason why Domnique Ansel decided to serve his lemon curd tart à la minute at his new venture, Dominque Ansel’s Kitchen.
My intention was to serve this dessert with a sorbet, a lemon, lime and basil one. Alas! it failed on me as my KitchenAid ice cream attachment wasn’t powerful enough to churn out the sorbet in this hot weather. I probably should have done this the day before rather than on the day itself.
I ended up with a granita (still good and perfect on a hot day!) but that also meant that I had to go with one less element on the plate.
The dessert turned out pretty well despite the slight glitch. It made me very happy.
Also, who can say no to lemon meringue desert for a whole week?
I know I can’t.
Recipe: Plated lemon meringue dessert
Adjust the quantities for the no. of desserts you have to plate. You will find yourself with a lot of extras that you can use on another day!
Pâte Sucrée (Sweet tart dough)
Taken from Desserts by Pierre Hérme by Dorie Greenspan
This tart is extremely buttery and crumbly (very delicious) but it also means it is more finicky to work with than with other doughs. The first time, I baked these strips of dough and they started to bend and curve while in the oven. The second time I did that, I baked a whole sheet of dough and only cut them into strips midway through baking.
285g unsalted butter
170g confectioner’s sugar/icing sugar, sifted
100g ground almonds/almond meal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
390g all-purpose flour
1. Cream butter using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until soft and creamy. Add the sifted sugar, almonds, salt, vanilla, egg and blend the ingredients on low speed, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
2. Add in the flour in three additions and mix only until the mixture comes together to form a soft and moist dough. Do not overwork the dough.
3. Cling wrap the dough and allow it to rest in the fridge for at least 4 hrs (I left it overnight).
4. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. This dough is pretty difficult to work with becuase of the high butter content. Best to do it in a cool room. You may also find it easier to roll the dough into between two sheets of plastic wrap. Roll it to about 3mm thickness. Allow it to chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Bake in a 180 degrees celcius, preheated for about 15 mins or until golden brown, tart shells would take longer. Store biscuits in an air-tight container.
200g Unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
125g Caster sugar
150g Eggs ( I used egg yolks this time for a richer, creamier curd)
125ml Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1. Put the lemon juice, caster sugar, and eggs into a stainless steel bowl. Whisk them over a bain-marie.
2. At first, the mixture will go frothy and bubbly. Continue whisking until it thickens until a ribbon stage. This means that as you lift the whisk from the mixture, it will fall back upon itself but should leave a trail or ‘ribbon’ across the surface. This ribbon will not immediately sink back in on itself but will hold firm.This will take a while so be patient. Cook it a little more than you would for curd to fill in the tart shells so that the curd can hold its form when piped.
3. Take the thickened mixture off heat and add in the cubed butter and whisk until incorporated. Transfer the curd into a non-reactive bowl and cling wrap it (with the cling wrap touching the surface of the curd) and allow the curd to chill in the fridge until required. Curd can be kept for a week.
80g Egg white
160g Caster sugar
1. Put in the water and caster sugar into a clean, grease-free pot. Do not stir mixture to prevent crystalisation of sugar. Cook to a soft-ball stage or until 118 degrees celcius. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar as it boils.
2. Start whisking the egg whites until soft peak stage only when the thermometer shows that syrup is at 100 degrees celcius.
3. Once the sugar syrup reaches 118 degrees celcius, take it off the heat and allow the syrup to stop bubbling so rapidly before pouring into the egg whites. Turn the speed of the mixer to max speed while you pour the sugar syrup in a slow and steady stream. Continue to whisk the egg whites at maximum speed until stiff peaks. Then turn down to a low-medium speed and whisk until meringue is cool before using.
4. Best to make it on the day when you are serving the dessert. When using, pipe the italian meringue onto your plate and use the blowtorch to lightly toast your meringues.
Makes 20 small meringues (6 cm in diameter)
80g egg whites (from about 3 large eggs)
160g caster sugar (superfine sugar, do not use coarse sugar for meringues)
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
(Swiss Meringue method)
1. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees celcius. (I use a fan-forced oven for this to ensure there is even heating but you can use a convection oven.)
2. Whisk together egg whites and sugar in a very clean stainless steel bowl. I use hot water to rinse it through to remove any grease and wiping it dry. Place bowl over a bain marie and whisk together whites and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. You will get a smooth, warm and slightly cloudy liquid. Remove from heat.
2. Transfer the warm mixture into a clean bowl of a electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat for about 10 minutes on high speed until you achieve glossy white mixture with firm peaks. Firm peaks are reached when you you see straight peaks when you lift up the whisk attachment and it does not droop back into the bowl.
3. Transfer the meringue mixture into a piping bag with a small round nozzle. Pipe whatever shapes you like. They should be pretty small. Dust with some cocoa powder, optional.
4. Lower the oven temperature to 100 degrees celcius and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes until crisp and dry.
Candied citrus peel (for recipe, refer to my previous blog post)