I made these for my dad’s birthday. He’s a huge lemon fan. He loves lemon meringue pie, but I’m afraid of trying to compete with his memories of my grandma’s pies. These cookies are much simpler because you don’t have to worry about pie crusts. The tart lemon curd works perfectly with the sweet, airy meringue cups. As an added bonus, they happen to be gluten-free!
This meringue is very forgiving – it was very clear to me that we were not achieving the stiff peaks stage while whipping up the egg whites. A few minutes in the freezer firmed the meringue enough to hold its shape while I placed it on the cookie sheet, and a quick transition to the oven set the structure enough to save the day. If you have shied away from meringue because it’s a challenge, this is a great starter recipe.
The cookies can be endlessly customized – fill with berries, pudding, jam, etc. Put together an assortment of pastel fillings for a beautiful spring dessert tray.
Yield: 24 cookies, with a little extra lemon curd for toast (or a ginger snap) (or your finger).
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Line two baking sheets with parchment. Preheat the oven to 275°. Place a tablespoon in the freezer to chill.
- Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt together until soft peaks form.
- Add the vanilla, then add the sugar little by little while beating. Whip until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form.
- Use the chilled tablespoon to place a dollop of meringue onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Leave some room between cookies. Each pan should hold 12 cookies.
- Lightly press the spoon into the middle of each cookie to form an indentation, then draw the excess meringue around the edges to form a little cup.
- Bake for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, and leave the cookies in the oven for at least an hour to dry out.
- Store in an airtight container.
Lemon curd ingredients:
- Zest of 3-4 lemons
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 egg yolks at room temperature
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 3/4 cup lemon juice (a little less is fine. This makes a tart, lemony curd. If you want it to be less intense, decrease the lemon juice and/or increase the sugar)
- 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
Lemon curd steps:
- Pulse the sugar and lemon zest in the food processor a few times. This will keep chunks out of the lemon curd. It will also help release the oils from the lemon rind.
- Cream the butter. Add the lemon-sugar mix and continue beating. Add eggs one at a time. Then add lemon juice and salt and mix until thoroughly combined. The mixture will look gross. Don’t worry about it.
- Pour mixture into a non-reactive saucepan. Cook over LOW heat (this is important – if you cook it too quickly, you will have little bits of scrambled egg in your curd), stirring often, until the entire mix turns to liquid. Then you may increase the temperature a bit to speed up the process.
- Cook until it becomes really thick. You are looking for a texture that won’t run off the cookies.
- Remove from heat and cool completely.
- Drop a spoonful into the well of each cookie about an hour before serving. This can be done immediately before serving, too, but we liked the texture when the meringue gets a little gooey in the center where the curd had been sitting for a bit.
- The cookies are minimally adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/12258/meringue-crust/
- The lemon curd is minimally adapted from The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe.