Lemon Meringue Cookies

(Lemon Meringue Cookies)

I’ve only recently discovered a world of Turkish sweets that extends far beyond lokum and the ever popular syrupy baklava. Take these lemon meringue cookies for example. Just when you think you’ve seen and eaten every imaginable cookie, someone decides to spread meringue on cookie dough, roll it up, bake it, and unsurprisingly, it tastes pretty darn fantastic.

The cookies expand slightly in the oven and come out resembling a rose while smelling like a combination of nutty butter and lemon peel. Biting into one reveals a range of magical textures from tender crumbly cookie to meringue that is soft in the middle and slightly crisp around the edges. I haven’t yet managed to stop at just one.

This recipe lends itself to many variations. Chocolate with crunchy hazelnut meringue or an applied thin layer of cumquat marmalade come immediately to mind. Do let me know if you happen to experiment with any other flavours!

Lemon Meringue Cookies :
(makes 12, adapted from a recipe from Turkish Bakery Delight by Deniz Göktürk Akçakanat)

For the pastry :
1 small egg
25g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
180g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt

For the meringue :
2 egg whites
pinch of sea salt
125g caster sugar
zest from 1 large lemon

In a food processor (or Thermomix), combine the egg, sugar, butter and salt. Process until creamy. Add the flour and baking powder, processing until a dough just forms. Press the dough out into a flat disc, wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 160’C. Make the meringue by whisking the egg whites and salt in a mixer until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Stir in the lemon zest.

Roll the dough out to a rectangle roughly measuring 12″ x 9″, with the longest side of the rectangle facing you. Spread the meringue on the dough, leaving a 1″ border all around. Gently roll the dough up. This may be a bit messy as the meringue will try to escape a little but it’s worth persevering, I promise.

Cut the log into 12. Arrange the cookies cut side up on a lined baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cookies are golden.

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Baked Passionfruit Custard

(Baked passionfruit custard with strawberries and apricot)

There are some things I crave occasionally. Peace and quiet is one, cold custard is another. This weekend, I’m getting a good dose of both since a bag of cheap passionfruits inspired me to make a few batches of custard, and Barry is spending a week working in San Francisco.

This recipe is for Anna. Funny story, Anna and I met one day on her way to the restrooms. In a restaurant, that is, not a nightclub, just in case you really needed to know. But perhaps that was too much information already.

One other thing.. did you know, if you blend passionfruit pulp with their skins, you get pink instead of yellow juice? How neat would pink passionfruit sorbet or soda be!

Baked Passionfruit Custard :
(makes 4 small serves)

3 x 55g eggs
55g sugar
100g strained passionfruit pulp (or leave seeds if you don’t mind the texture) – roughly 3 large passionfruit or 5-6 small ones
juice of 1/2 lemon
100g pouring/thin cream

Preheat the oven to 165’C.

Mix all the ingredients together, whisking gently only to combine. Avoid incorporating too much air or introducing froth to the mixture. If bubbles form on the surface, skim them off. Strain the mixture (return the seeds to the mix if you wish). Divide between 4 small ramekins and place the ramekins in a hot water bath, on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked. They should still have a bit of a wobble in the middle. Remove them from the oven, allow to cool down in the water bath then chill the ramekins for a few hours in the fridge.

You can eat the custards as is, or topped with some fruit or more passionfruit pulp. If you’re feeling fancy, sprinkle the tops with sugar and lightly blow torch to caramelise.

If it’s too hot to bake, try making a set passionfruit cream instead.

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Earl Grey tea cookies and a sojourn to the land of tea

(Earl Grey tea cookies with lemon buttercream)

“Like the pastries themselves, each day is different from the last. As I look around at all of the handsome shapes of crescents, twists, and coils and the delightful assortment of cookies, scones, tarts, savories, and confections, I am excited and amazed. But it’s that final glance, that close-up view, that reveals their truth. Simple, humble, and beautiful, this is the stuff I love.” — Nancy Silverton.

I’m not sure if this is true or not, but someone once told me there are many Inuit words to describe snow. Likewise, us bakers have many words to describe baking.

It is a tool for procrastination, a gesture of love, a moment of greed or joy, and for some lucky people, a means to make a living. It’s an act whose meaning changes with every day that I bake. Yesterday we had chocolate sables because I didn’t really want to do my long overdue taxes. Today, I made these Earl Grey tea cookies because I enjoy the quietly therapeutic process of mixing and rolling soft, buttery dough. (Update : taxes still not done) Also, there was the matter of some frosting to use up before we went away.

Next week I’m heading to Shanghai for a few days and it’s my first ever trip to China so if anyone has any great tips or suggestions, please let me know!

A few people requested this recipe when I posted a picture of it a few months ago. Apologies for the delay, but here it finally is. The version here is tea inspired, but you can make it whatever flavour you wish : vanilla, chocolate, marbled.. it’s pretty versatile and very delicious. The cookies are an adaptation of a classic shortbread treat called Melting Moments and this particular recipe (original author unknown) comes from an old work notebook of mine. Sandwiched between ‘Madelines, citrus’ and ‘Messine sauce, for marron’, it reads as follows..

Earl Grey Cookies :
(makes 30 sandwiched cookies or thereabouts)

180g butter, at room temperature
60g icing sugar
180g flour
5g earl grey tea powder
60g cornflour
pinch of salt

In a food processor (or Thermomix), cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the flour, tea, cornflour and salt. Pulse/process until the dough comes together, stopping occasionally to scrape the mixture down. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 15 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven to 175’C. Line two or three baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and arrange them on the baking sheets, leaving about 1.5 inches of space between each ball to allow for spreading. Indent the tops with a fork. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely before sandwiching them with frosting (I used lemon buttercream here).

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