Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lemon Meringue Torte

I like many things that has lemon in it... I like it as lemonade... I like it with extra-virgin olive oil as a simple dressing...I love it as gremolata (lemon zest with chopped garlic and basil--heavenly)...I like it squeezed over paella or mussels cooked in white wine... and I love it as dessert.

My version is a cross between a lemon pie and a lemon square. I particularly like the strong tartness of the lemon square because it is more pronounced. The meringue just adds a bit of depth and creaminess to the bite.

I was especially happy when I experimented on this as I was never consistently successful with beating egg whites. I have yet to succeed in making my son's favorite dessert which is sans rival. I was a dismal failure so I will try and try again.
Plus, this time I was challenged to do it by hand and not rely on a mixer ( To be truthful about it, I was just too lazy to bring out the heavy mixer from the shelf in my pantry. To get it was a greater challenge for me at the time.)

I find that this a perfect ending to a heavy meal or a meal that had very strong flavors like beef and pork dishes, or spicy dishes, because it cools the palate. Though sweet, the lemon seems to cleanse the tongue.

This recipe is not intimidating as the crust does not require much skill, except mixing and pressing onto the pan. The zest is really important because I find that this gives the round flavor and it just makes the dessert more appetizing even on the first whiff. The best couple of tips I ever got to beating egg whites to a fluff are: they should be at room temperature and the bowl should be absolutely dry.
Pucker up and enjoy.

1 c all purpose flour
1/2 butter or butter compound
1/4 c powdered or confectioner's sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 yolks
1 1/2 c sugar
Lemon zest, chopped (about 1 1/2 T)
Juice from 2 lemons (about 6-7 T)
1 t baking powder

Prepare a shallow pie pan or tart pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Blend together flour and powdered sugar. Then combine it with softened butter.
Simply press this on the pan. And bake in oven for 15 minutes.
In a bowl, beat eggs and sugar till creamy and fluffy. Add your lemon zest, lemon juice and baking powder. Pour over pre-baked crust and bake for another 15-20 minutes till the top layer is set. Let cool.

To prepare meringue, beat eggwhites with 1 t cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 c sugar and beat continuously until stiff but not dry. Spread on top of pie and bake or broil until it is lightly browned.

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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