I had seen a recipe for lemon meringue cupcakes and thought that they would be perfect, piled high with their billowy white tops. The cake is light and lemony and doesn't rise with a peak but makes a lovely, flat base to pile the meringue onto. I found lots of recipes that called for normal meringue on the top, cooked either under the grill or with a blowtorch. I decided to keep my tops snowy white and so made Italian meringue.
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
Grated rind of one lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 cup lemon curd (I made mine using Stephanie Alexander's recipe but you can buy it)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in lemon rind and juice, them add eggs one at a time until combined.
2. Sift flour and baking powder together and add to the mix alternately with the milk.
3. Spoon into lined muffin tins and fill almost to the top. I got 15 out of this mixture. Bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.
4. When cool, scoop out a piece from the top of the cake and fill the hole with a teaspoonful of lemon curd. You will be left with this cook's treat.
2 egg whites
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites at low speed until they foam. Add cream of tartar and salt then increase speed and beat to soft peaks. Reduce speed to low as you prepare sugar syrup.
2. Bring the sugar and water to a simmer until sugar is dissolved. Brush the sides of the saucepan with water to dissolve sugar crystals. Increase heat and boil without stirring until it reaches the soft ball stage which is around 240F or 116C on a sugar thermometer.
3. Slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg whites while beating on low. Try to avoid the sides of the mixer and the whisk. Increase speed to medium and beat for 10 minutes until the mixture is cool and the egg whites form stiff, shiny peaks.
4. Pipe the meringue on top of the curd-filled cakes.
My sugar thermometer seems to be a bit slow because when my syrup reached the right temperature on the thermometer it immediately turned a dark toffee colour and when I tried to add it to the egg whites it turned to hard toffee in my Kitchen Aid! Toffee in the bowl, on the whisk and in the saucepan - not fun. I cleaned it all up and started again, this time just watching rather than using the thermometer and while there was some clear toffee on the whisk and in the bottom of the bowl, the egg whites did go beautifully thick and shiny. The meringue is cooked by the hot syrup but you can torch them if you want to make them golden.
When Mim was here last week we had the brilliant idea of leaving her with the kids and going out to dinner! We went, as usual, to Three Chefs. I checked out the menu online before we went and had my heart set on pan fried mulloway fillet: caramelised leek risotto, new season asparagus and caviar cream sauce but they didn't have it on the night! Andrew had this delightful beef cheek with chick pea cassoulet - a knife was completely unnecessary.
I had a New York strip steak and made the whole table shake when I cut it, it was so tough :(
The desserts made up for that. Andrew had chocolate spring rolls with Kahlua milkshake.
I had a peppermint semifreddo rolled in praline with Valrhona chocolate gelato. The gelato was a bit icy and not rich or dark but the semifreddo and praline were creamy, rich and crunchy - delicious.