Monday, February 6, 2012

Dynamic Duo: Meyer Lemon Curd & Cardamom Rose Meringues

Citrus season is upon us! If you are lucky enough to have a Meyer lemon tree in your yard (or a neighbor's) I highly recommend making some Meyer Lemon Curd.

Freshly scrubbed organic Meyer Lemons 
The homemade stuff is beyond compare. Fresh lemon (or other citrus) curd is like a flavor bomb for your palate and its creaminess is something the store-bought versions will never, ever deliver. Plus, since you will end up with extra egg whites from your curd, why not double up and make some meringues?

I recently discovered my love for citrus curds, so already knew that's what I wanted to do with the Meyers procured from the last swap. But I was surprised to learn just how easy lemon curd is to make.

Essentially all you do is zest and juice the lemons, add eggs and butter, cook, strain and put it in jars. If you can wait that long. Fair warning that you may just start eating it from the bowl directly!

Mmm, zesty.
Straining your lemon curd
Cooling jars
Eat it by the spoonful if you like!

I used My Pantry Shelf's Meyer Lemon Curd recipe and loved the results! That said, I have a few notes based on my wayward recipe-following ways...

By accident I grabbed the wrong measuring cup and didn't figure it out until later, so my curd had only 3/4 cup sugar which left it on the tart side, but still plenty sweet for my liking.

My lemons were a variety of sizes, so it took 6-7 of my lemons to produce the required 1 cup of fresh lemon juice. Also, I used 4 oz. jars so I adjusted the processing time to 10 minutes. Yield was 5 jars.

After this success, I was motivated to put my four extra egg whites to use. Meringues immediately came to mind. A quick recipe search resulted in countless options, but I was looking for one that would put ingredients I already had in the house to use. (Well, actually in full disclosure I did borrow cream of tartar from my neighbor since I didn't want to break my stride and make an excursion to the store just for that. I repaid her in merigues so it all worked out. Thanks Betsy!). Even better when I landed upon one I could adapt to use my rose water in. Enter Cardamom Rose Meringues.

My only variations here were doubling the recipe and using rose water instead of rose extract. Based on substitution proportions I found online, I substituted 1 tablespoon rose water for 1 teaspoon rose extract and reduced the amount of water in the recipe. (I did some calculations on how much to reduce the water, but can't make much sense of my math scribbles, so will leave that in your undoubtedly capable hands if you wish to go the same course).

I let my inner perfectionist go...
Again, even though everyone always says meringues are tricky, I found them remarkably easy and satisfying to make. Which doesn't mean they were a treat for the eyes...

I don't own any piping equipment, and though I knew you can jerry-rig your own with a ziploc bag, overconfidence had me thinking, "I can do this with spoons like the recipe says. How hard can it be?".  Well, judging by the photo shown here, it's pretty darn hard. I realized this after just one or two attempts, but I just decided to kind of go with it.

Did they end up looking more like crazy sand sculptures or Gaudí-esque creations than the quintessential merigue drops? Yes. But more importantly everyone I gifted them to said they were delicious! And their imperfection kind of made me smile.

Next time around I probably will try to make them prettier, and I'm going to make some of this homemade natural food coloring so I can dose them with color too.