April 7, 2011

Meyer Lemon Puddings

As I was walking through the grocery store the other day, a pile of lemons caught my eye. But these weren’t ordinary lemons. They were Meyer lemons.

Meyer lemons have a dark, orangey-yellow skin, the color of an egg yolk. Their skin is thinner, softer, and smoother than that of regular lemons.

Meyer lemons

Regular lemons

Meyer lemons have become more and more popular over the past few years. I’d heard quite a bit about their distinctive flavor, but I’d never cooked with them. So I put some in my shopping cart and brought them home.

Meyer lemons are a cross between lemons and mandarin oranges, and that's just what they taste like. They’re sweeter than regular lemons. And they don’t have the same lip-puckering tartness. 

I’d brought the lemons home not knowing what I was going to do with them. Having tasted how sweet they were, I figured I’d use them in a dessert. I flipped through some cookbooks and magazines until I came across a recipe for Meyer Lemon Budino. (Budino is Italian for pudding.)

The puddings actually turned out more like soufflés. They were light and airy, sweet and not too tart. If I hadn’t known better, I might have guessed that they were made with clementines or mandarin oranges rather than a type of lemon. The puddings made a great presentation served in individual ramekins.

If you want to try Meyer lemons, now is the time. They’re only available from winter through early spring. If you’ve missed the Meyer lemon season, try this recipe with regular lemons. I think these puddings would taste great with some extra tang.

Start this recipe by combining the sugar, egg yolks, flour, Meyer and regular lemon juice and Meyer lemon peel in a bowl.

Add milk and whisk it all together.

In a separate bowl, mix together the egg whites and salt until they are frothy.

Add the remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites form soft peaks. These whipped egg whites are what gives this pudding its soufflé-like consistency.

Now, gently fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture with a spatula. Do this with a light hand, to avoid deflating the egg whites you’ve just whipped. Remember, the whipped eggs whites are going to make your puddings light and airy. 

Spoon the mixture into ramekins set in a roasting pan. Pour hot water into the roasting pan, halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This is called a water bath, or bain marie. The water bath helps the puddings cook evenly, without forming a crust on the outside. 

Bake for 30 minutes and you will have beautiful puddings! Serve the puddings immediately – they will deflate upon standing (but don’t worry, they will still taste delicious)!

Meyer Lemon Budino

Recipe from Bon Appetit

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh regular lemon juice
2 Tbsp finely grated Meyer lemon peel
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
Whipped cream (optional)

1.      Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter six 3/4-cup custard cups or ramekins.

2.      Combine 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl; whisk until well blended. Whisk in milk.

3.      Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in medium bowl until frothy.

4.      Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

5.      Fold beaten egg whites into lemon mixture in 2 additions.

6.      Divide mixture among prepared custard cups. Place custard cups in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of custard cups. Bake puddings until tops are golden and spring back when lightly touched, about 30 minutes. Remove cups from water.

7.      Serve warm or cold with whipped cream, if desired.

Serves 6

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