During the week I was working ridiculous hours, attempting to somewhat entertain my mother who was visiting, plus getting ready to fly away on vacation. With all this commotion going on, I knew I would be at my best when it came time to put together my IMBB entry. This was my first IMBB. My first opportunity to prove (if only to myself) that I do indeed have a 'food blog'. I think I did okay.
Eggs showed up at every stage of this dessert. Yolks in the lemon curd and pastry base; whites in the meringue.
Lemon Meringue Beehives from Gale Gand's Just a Bite
You will find Gale's original comments in (parenthesis) and my comments in [brackets].
A 2-inch round cookie cutter
A cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
A small ice cream scoop or melon baller, about 1-1/2 inches across
A pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip (1/4 inch or less)
A kitchen torch (optional)
For the Pastry Bases
4 TB cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
1/4 creme fraiche [or plain yogurt]
For the Lemon Curd
3/4 cup sugar
Freshly grated zest of 1-1/2 lemons
1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
6 TB cold unsalted butter
For the Meringue
1/2 cup egg whites [I recommend Whippin' Whites* since the meringues are not heated enough to kill salmonella bacteria]
1/2 Cup sugar
Make the pastry bases: Mix the butter, flour, and salt in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until sandy. In a separate bowl, blend the egg yolk and creme fraiche [or yogurt]. Add to the flour mixture and mix until barely combined. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
Make the lemon curd: Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Whip the eggs and sugar in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and juice and place the bowl over simmering water (without letting the bowl touch the water; pour some water out if needed). Cook until the curd is thickened, whisking occasionally. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the butter. Let the curd cool to room temperature, cover, and freeze overnight or up to 3 days.
Bake the pastry bases: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Flour a work surface. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut out 2-inch rounds. Transfer the rounds to the cookie sheet and prick them all over with a fork. Bake until they are light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool. (the whole recipe can be made up to this point up to 3 days in advance.) [If bases have puffed, prick again while hot and place a heavy Pyrex pan on top of the bases to flatten them slightly as they cool.]
Up to 6 hours before serving, assemble the dessert: Arrange the pastry bases in a pan that will fit in your freezer (use two if needed). Use the small ice-cream scoop to place a ball of frozen lemon curd (it won't be frozen solid) onto each round. Freeze until needed.
Whip the egg whites until foamy, then add the sugar and continue whipping until stiff and glossy. Transfer to the pastry bag. Pipe the meringue around the base of each pastry round, spiraling around and up the lemon-curd dome and gradually enclosing the top to create a beehive. Heat the broiler to very hot (or fire up your kitchen torch) and broil until the meringue is lightly browned all over. Return to the freezer until ready to serve, up to 6 hours.
I had my own version of lemon curd left over from a batch I had made and frozen a while back so I had to make some adjustments since my curd is very solid when frozen. I HIGHLY recommend freezing the pastry bases topped with lemon curd for at least a couple of hours before adding the meringue. I also recommend using a kitchen torch, if you have one, over an oven broiler since my lemon curd melted a bit in the oven.
What this recipe has taught me: Follow directions! (lol) Also - Whippin' Whites (a pasteurized egg product formulated for excellent whipping) cannot be frozen for use later (also a follow directions lesson since it clearly states on the label: KEEP REFRIGERATED). Due to my inability to follow directions, my merigue did not inflate properly but I was able to save it with the addition of powdered meringue.
All things considered, these turned out really well. They are very cute even though slightly squatty due to my lemon curd melting a bit. They are also extremely tasty. The pastry base stays nice and flaky even directly from the freezer, which was unexpected.