I’m not generally a fan of citrus fruit-based desserts. While I like sour gummy candies, something about those sour flavors in baked good just doesn’t work for me. Nonetheless, when I got a free bag of lemons from the Giant Eagle, I wasn’t about to complain! I set out to put together a dessert for lemon lovers and, hopefully, a lemon dessert I would like. I also got a set of ramekins this week, which were not free, and I wanted to test them out too. So this is the result of my efforts. A hybrid between a cake and a custard, topped with an herbed glaze and candied lemon slices.
Herbs de Provence is a classic French blend typically consisting of oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and lavender. The mix of several savory herbs and the unique taste of lavender is a real winner. You can generally find it in any spice aisle but you could always go all Martha Stewart on that shit and make it yourself. I’ve never used this spice blend in a dessert recipe before so I was a little worried about it. Fortunately, I found that these flavors pair well with lemon and that the remaining components of the dish are sweet enough to balance out the flavor of the herbs. I definitely recommend picking up a bottle of this versatile spice blend, which I also use in pizza, poultry dishes and tomato-based sauces. For some more ideas check this list from Huffington Post. If you like, you could also just substitute plain rosemary or maybe an Italian seasoning. If you’re unsure about the herb blend in your dessert, you can prepare the glaze without it or replace the glaze with a melted white chocolate drizzle.
Because this recipe contains several firsts for me, I’ve decided to submit it to Our Growing Edge. It’s an opportunity for food bloggers to try new things within a set theme and share them twice per month. This month’s Holiday Baking-themed event is hosted by Lauren from Sweet and Southern Lifestyle.
This recipe is fairly time consuming, mainly because it involves beating egg whites to stiff peaks. You could cut down on your hands-on time if you have a stand mixer but I used a hand mixer. My arm was totally falling asleep! Try not to be too intimidated by this recipe because it is fairly simple as long as you stick close to my instructions. The end result is yummy and impressive-looking but still light. As this dessert cools it will separate into two layers, a spongy cake on top and a creamy custard on the bottom.
This is a good special occasion dessert for the holidays. It is easily doubled and can be prepared one or two days in advance. Just be sure to wrap the ramekins tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Allowing the cakes to sit overnight will really let the glaze soak in. Also, the candied lemon slices used to garnish the cakes can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container.
Following my busy week, I rewarded myself by adding another member to my supercool adult stuffed animal collection. This is Puffer, the Magicker Dragon. Look at his sparkly scales and adorable droopy eyelids! I’m in love! And so is Chai.
Lemon Custard Cakes with Herbs de Provence Glaze and Candied Lemon Slices
Lemon Custard Cakes:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, separated
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup vanilla soy milk
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strained (from about 1 ½ lemons, reserve remainder for glaze)
¾ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
Pinch of salt
Herbs de Provence Glaze:
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained (You can use water if you prefer a less intense lemon flavor.)
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 teaspoons dried herbs de Provence or rosemary, to taste
Candied lemon slices for garnish (Recipe below. These should be prepared the day before.)
A couple hours before you will bake, separate the eggs. Leave whites and yolks, in separate bowls, set out to reach room temperature.
Also measure out the milk and butter and allow to reach room temperature.
Place the beaters and bowl you will beat the egg whites in the freezer to chill.
Preheat oven to 350° F. (You may want to wait until you start beating the egg whites to do this.)
Whisk together sugar and flour.
In separate bowl, mix egg yolks and butter until well blended.
Whisk in milk, lemon juice and zest.
Pour lemon mixture into sugar mixture and whisk until smooth.
In medium bowl, beat egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form. (When the beaters are lifted, peaks form and stand straight up without falling over.)
Gently fold egg whites into batter.
Using a ladle, spoon batter into four greased 6-ounce ramekins and transfer to small roasting pan.
Place pan in oven and pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up sides of ramekins.
Bake for 35 minutes or until puffy and golden on top.
While cakes bake, bring glaze ingredients to a boil in small saucepan, stirring often.
Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Carefully remove roasting pan from oven. Using tongs, transfer ramekins to rack.
Place a couple candied lemon slices on top of each cake.
Carefully spoon glaze over cakes.
Allow cakes to cool for 20 minutes.
Serve in ramekins. Due to their pudding-like consistency, these cakes do not transfer to plates well.
Candied Lemon Slices:
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeds gently removed
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup water
Heat water and sugar over medium-high heat until mixture simmers and looks clear, stirring often.
Reduce heat to medium and add lemon slices.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until slices are soft, turning occasionally.
Remove from heat and let slices cool in saucepan.
Place on wire rack over parchment paper to drain. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
Cover loosely with more parchment paper and let dry overnight.