So these are, like of a lot of my cooking, not at all what I had hoped them to be, but somehow turned into something pretty damn awesome. I had intended to make miniature lemon meringue pies, except I had no pastry, so used a crushed biscuit base. Then I realised I hadn’t got any cornflour to stabilise the lemon curd, and it was too late on a Sunday to go and buy any. What I got however was something quite messy, but utterly, utterly delicious. This is definitely for those of a sweet tooth!
If you’ve not made meringues before, don’t be tempted to take a shortcut, if you don’t have the tell-tale stiff peaks in the mix, then there isn’t enough air in it, and it will collapse into a soggy sweet omelette.
I’ve reduced the sugar content in the curd to make the lemons come out a bit more, with the sweetness of the meringue, you really want some zing. This makes four, one ramekin per person. You can make the curd and base well in advance of pudding the puddings in the oven.
For the curd
- 100g butter, cubed.
- 100g caster sugar.
- 4 unwaxed lemons, juice and zest.
- 4 eggs
For the base
- 200g ginger stem biscuits.
- 100g butter.
For the meringue
- Four egg whites
- 300g caster sugar.
- For your curd, place a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Melt the butter and add the caster sugar, lemon juice and zest until combined. Once combined add the eggs slowly, whisking in to ensure that the mixture is well combined. Leave for ten minutes to cook, stirring occasionally so that the mixture cooks. Once cooked, set aside.
- For the base, crush biscuits (a food processor works well for an even crumb, but a freezer bag and a rolling pin is more cathartic). Melt the butter in a saucepan and take off the heat, adding the biscuit crumbs until well combined. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and press down with the back of a teaspoon.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. This is fairly unusual for meringues, as you’d cook at a much lower temperature, but remember we’re cooking the filling as well.
- For the meringues, begin whisking your egg whites. I really recommending using a food processor or mixer for this as you’ll be whisking for a while. I have my treasured Kenwood Chef from my late Granny, they stand the test of time. Gradually add the sugar, if you add it all at once, you’ll have grainy meringues, add a table spoon at a time.
- Keep whisking until you have ‘stiff peaks’ of mixture when you dip a spoon into the mixture. Once you have these, you’re ready to put everything together. Divide the curd between ramekins. This is a runny curd, as there is no stabilising cornflour – that’s fine, you want it to run into the base to get a lovely sticky, gingery, lemon caramel like filling. Finally, pour over plenty of meringue so that it overflows the ramekins, don’t worry, since it will set quickly at the high temperature.
- Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the meringue starts to crack and you can see the definition between the soft chewy centre, and the crisp outside. Serve!