So – if you get the itch to make the meringue shells pictured yesterday – here’s all you have to do – super easy!
6 Individual Meringue Shell Crowns
3 large room temp egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 275-degrees and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat. Dust the surface with a little corn starch.
Begin beating egg whites until frothy then add cream of tartar and continue beating on high speed. Begin adding sugar by the tablespoon full allowing mixture to beat well between each addition until all sugar is added. Pour in vanilla extract and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. When whites appear to be stiff, stop mixer and feel a pinch of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger. If it’s still a little grainy, continue beating until whites are smooth. All that sugar need to be completely dissolved. Once whites are no longer grainy – it’s ready to pipe.
Load the egg whites into a pastry/piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe crowns by piping swirled circles (begin in the center of the circle and swirl around itself working its way outward) to form a 4 to 5 inch circle. Pipe 6 crown/circle bases this way, then come back to each and pipe stars atop the outer edge of each. When done, place tray in oven and bake for 45 minutes. When timer goes off, turn the oven off and open the door, leaving it ajar for an additional 45 minutes allowing the crowns to cool completely and slowly in inside the oven. You may then move them to an airtight container or rack to set until ready to fill. See? EASY!
Ina Garten’s Lemon Curd
(this is Ina’s recipe but my own comments are noted with a * *)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature 4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar. * * I used a microplane to zest my lemon, creating very fine shards of lemon peel – but I still combined the zest with the sugar in the food processor to blend it together well.
Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined. (* * will be voluminous and light ‘whipped butter yellow’)
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly (* * It’ll take WAY longer than 10 minutes if you do this on low. I have my temp at a notch and a half below medium and stir the entire time – it takes a good 15 minutes or so. The mixture will go from that ‘creamy whipped butter appearance to a silky, more liquid form to finally a thicker form, say close to a pancake batter…never will it be like a super thick gel). The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate. Use as desired…..as in…EAT IT WITH A SPOON!!!!! YUM!!!!!