Lemon Meringue Bars

lemon meringue bars

The hint of some sunshine again after bouts of moody, rainy weather gave me the inspiration for this summery, citrusy dessert. Everyone loves lemon meringue pie; it’s got the perfect mix of sour, tangy lemon and sweet meringue. So, I thought why not turn it into a bar and make this decadent treat a bit more fun! I have decided to go for an Italian meringue here because I love the cloudy, air-like billowiness of it, and of course the fact that it leaves you with the opportunity to use the blow-torch to finish it off. Of course, you don’t have to torch the meringue, it will still taste delicious, I just love the thrill of it. Being the glutton that I am I sliced these bars up into 12 portions, but that is not to say you couldn’t slice them into smaller pieces to feed more people. They are very rich and a few mouthfuls would be enough for most, but again, I am not most. Hope you enjoy 🙂

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Lemon Meringue Bars

Base and filling adapted from Donna Hay

Makes 12 bars

base

  • 1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 cup (80g) desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups (300g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 200g unsalted butter, melted

lemon filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, extra
  • 2 cups (440g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • ⅓ cup (50g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 cup (250ml) lemon juice (about 3 medium lemons)

Italian meringue

  • 175 gm caster sugar
  • 2 eggwhites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 60ml water

 

Method: 

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Place the sugar, coconut, flour and butter in a bowl and stir until combined and mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. You can also do this by popping everything in a food processor and pulsing it a few times.

Using the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the base of a lightly greased 20 x 30cm slice tin lined with non-stick baking paper. It’s important to press the base right into the edges and corners of the tin so the lemon filling can’t escape down any gaps.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the lemon filling, place the eggs and extra egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the sugar, flour, lemon rind and lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Carefully pour the filling over the cooked base and bake for 30 minutes or until just set. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Meanwhile, for Italian meringue, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir until sugar dissolves and brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar particles. Increase heat to high and cook until syrup reaches 121C on a sugar thermometer (6-9 minutes). Meanwhile, when syrup reaches 110C, start whisking eggwhites and cream of tartar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually pour hot syrup over eggwhites in a thin stream, whisking continuously until cooled, thick and glossy (10-12 minutes).

Remove cooled lemon slice from tin and cut into 12 pieces. Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle and pipe swirls on top of each piece. Brown with a blowtorch (optional) and serve.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passionfruit Jelly, Caramelised Mango and White Chocolate Mousse

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Summer is almost upon us and that means it’s time for barbeques, salads and long days at the beach. I should know, because as I write this post I am looking rather red from spending rather too much time in the sun. Tut tut. Because the days are warm, we want food that is fresh and light, and while desserts are usually decadent affairs, that does not mean we have to miss out. I know that must be a sigh of relief for all you sugar fiends out there – myself included.

One of my favourite summer desserts is panna cotta, which essentially translates to ‘cooked cream’. I remember first eating his dessert while on holidays with my family in Italy in a tiny little town just outside Florence. It was at a small traditional restaurant and the panna cotta was heavenly – it was smooth and creamy but oh so light and melted on your tongue. We had spent the day sightseeing in the heat, so to end the day eating this chilled creamy vanilla goodness topped with fresh berries was perfect.

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The variation I have made here is a coconut infused cream – make sure you toast the shredded coconut yourself first and try to give it the full hour for the flavours to envelop the cream mixture as it really makes a difference to the end result. I wanted to make this dessert scream summer so I’ve given it a tropical hit with the caramelized mango and passion fruit jelly – with just a hint of pure sugary sweetness from the white chocolate mousse. The flavours work sublimely together it really makes you feel like you’re on holidays in some far away exotic location. While each of the elements is a little time consuming as there is quite a bit of chilling required, they are not all that hard, so please don’t be put off.

Give this a go for your next barbie, or when you want to impress your friends at a dinner party and let me know how you go!

 

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passionfruit Jelly, Caramelised Mango and White Chocolate Mousse

Serves 6

Coconut Panna Cotta

  • 140 gm shredded coconut
  • 400 ml milk
  • 400ml pouring cream
  • Thinly peeled rind of 1 lime
  • 110 gm (1/2 cup) raw caster sugar
  • 4 titanium-strength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water for 3-5 minutes
  • 150 ml coconut cream
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Spread coconut over an oven tray and toast until golden (4-5 minutes). Transfer to a large saucepan, add milk, cream and rind, and bring to the boil over medium-high heat, then remove from heat and stand to infuse (1 hour).
  2. Bring coconut mixture back to the simmer over medium-high heat, add sugar and stir to dissolve. Squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to coconut mixture, stir to dissolve, then strain into a bowl through a coarse sieve (press on solids to extract all liquid; discard solids). Stir in coconut cream, then pour into six 1 cup-capacity jelly moulds or one 1 litre cake tin and refrigerate until set (overnight).
  3. To serve, dip the moulds in hot water, then gently pull edges of jelly away from sides with your fingertip (this helps break the vacuum and release the jelly). Place a plate on top, invert mould and plate, then remove mould.

 

Passionfruit Jelly

  • 375 ml (1½ cups) passionfruit juice
  • 150 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 200 gm white sugar
  • 6½ gelatine leaves, softened in cold water
  1. Combine juices, sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then pass through a muslin-lined sieve. Warm ½ cup juice mixture in a saucepan over medium heat, squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to pan and stir until gelatine dissolves, then add remaining juice mixture. Cool slightly and pour into six 1 cup-capacity glasses and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. Once set, cut jelly into small cubes.

Note: To make passionfruit juice, blend passionfruit pulp in a food processor to crack seeds, then strain through a fine sieve. Twelve passionfruit yield about 1 cup of juice.

 

White Chocolate Mousse

  1. 3 egg whites
  2. 200g good quality white chocolate
  3. ½ cup caster sugar
  4. 1 egg yolk
  • Melt the white chocolate over a bain-marie until smooth. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk egg white in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar to egg whites. Keep beating until sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are stiff.
  • Gently fold through white chocolate mixture and egg yolk until the mixture has incorporated.
  • Place bowl in fridge and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

 

Caramelised Mango

2 mangoes, flesh sliced into thin pieces

½ cup brown sugar

25 g butter

  • Heat a medium sized frypan over a medium heat. Place the sugar into the plan and leave to heat for about 30 seconds, then add the butter in small knobs around the pan. Mix the butter and sugar together until it forms a caramel paste. Add in the mango and coat it in the sugar mix. Take the mango off the heat and place on a plate after about 30 seconds.

To serve 

  • 3 passion fruit
  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Handful mint leaves
  1. Arrange the de-molded panna cottas onto plates. Place a few pieces of the caramelized mango around the panna cottas. Scatter some jelly cubes over the mango. Using a piping bag, pipe little mounds of the mousse into the gaps between the mango and jelly. Place toasted coconut flakes into the white chocolate mounds – use the mousse as a glue to stick the coconut into. Garnish each of the six plates with mint leaves and the pulp of half a passion fruit. Serve immediately.