Lemon meringue a la Finesse

I don’t like the word deconstructed, but it probably is the best way to describe this version of lemon meringue, this has evolved a lot over the last few years but I think the balance of flavours is just about right now, it has become my signature dessert.

The dessert is made up of a lemon cream, not a curd which I found to claggy & sweet, biscotti crumb made with citrus & nuts, this is to represent the pastry element, black meringue which is dehydrated for a crisp texture but still melts on the palate, to balance the sweetness there is a basil & lime sorbet which also gives the dish a herby note, the dish is finished with fresh blackberries & chervil.

For the new season approaching in April we will change the fresh fruit for fermented berries such as blueberries and served with fennel fronds rather than chervil, this gives a slightly more savoury note, as anyone who has stayed on the barge will know I love desserts with a quite strong hit of savoury umaminess, I am also trying some licorice powder in the meringues to enhance their flavour.

We will start with the lemon cream which I make with a lemon purée reduced by four from 500g to 125g, you may not be able to get a 100% lemon purée you substitute this for fresh lemon juice reduced by half, so 250g to 125g.

Lemon cream

500g lemon purée

250g eggs

150g caster sugar

125g double cream

Place the lemon purée into a saucepan of appropriate size remembering it’s going to reduce by four, put on a medium high heat & leave to reduce, be careful as towards the end of reduction it will catch & burn if the saucepan is to big.

While the lemon is reducing in another pan mix together the eggs, cream & sugar & place over a medium heat stirring all the time, when this reaches between 50 & 60 degrees pour in the warm lemon purée, do not add the purée while still boiling it may curdle the eggs, cook the mix to between 85 & 90 degrees as you would a custard & it will thicken, you need to cook it to the consistency of pastry cream so that you can pipe it from a piping bag when cool, when the desired consistency is reached turn it out into a bowl & cover with cling film pushed down onto the cream so as to stop a skin forming on top when cooled.

If you have a thermomix I make this cream with the custard warmed to 65 degrees, pour in the purée and cook for 8 mins whisk attached at speed 5 with the pouring cap off.

Basil & lime sorbet

250g fresh basil

2. limes zest & juiced

300g mineral water or filtered water

250g caster sugar

50g glucose syrup

In a pan of boiling water blanch the basil for 10 seconds then refresh immediately in a a large bowl of iced water.

In another pan ad the sugar, glucose, water, zest & lime juice bring to a simmer & stir until the sugars have dissolved, wring all of the water out of the basil & place in a blender with hot sugar syrup and blend for 2 mins, pour through a fine sieve into a clean bowl & chill rapidly over another bowl of iced water, rapid chilling helps to keep a vibrant green colour, when cold pour into an ice cream machine & churn.

Meringue shards

170g icing sugar

160g egg whites

Whisk the egg whites with a squeeze of lemon juice, add the sugar a spoonful at a time until it is all incorporated & you have stiff shiny egg whites, at this point of you want black meringue add black food colouring.

Spread the meringue 3mm thick onto sheets with parchment paper and place into a dehydrator or oven 65 degrees centigrade, dry until crisp, about 4 -5 hours in a dehydrator.

You can plate the dessert in any style you like with some biscuits crushed or a crumble mix & any berries you prefer, blueberries, strawberries or raspberries will work with lemon.

Pictures by @agatacuper Instagram

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