Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: My Meringue Kisses and Lemon Sherbet Are an Unbeatable Dessert Combo
Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli; Inset: Getty
Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef, Food Network celebrity chef, author of Old-School Comfort Food and the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurants. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Tuesday to get her professional cooking tips, family-favorite recipes and personal stories of working in front of the camera and behind the kitchen doors. Follow her on Twitter at @guarnaschelli.
This is such a throwback to my childhood. I have a distinct memory of my mom scooping sherbet onto a few crunchy meringues. My dad absolutely loves anything with a meringue on it, from a pie to a Pavlova, and so we had it often.
Sherbet is only different from a sorbet in that milk or cream, egg white or gelatin has to be part of the recipe. What does this mean taste-wise? It means there will be added texture and even a slight creamy note. It can be a cool way to have the lightness of a fruit sorbet with just a touch of richness from dairy.
I love lemon (or any citrus) sherbet in particular because the tartness and freshness of the citrus against a little cream is the best of both worlds. I also love the combination of these little meringue kisses for a super light crunch component to go with the sherbet.
I like to make all of this in advance and then simply toss the meringues into the bottom of a few bowls and top with a scoop of the sherbet. You can also buy some sorbet or sherbet if time is an issue. It just makes you channel your inner pastry chef (yes, we all have one deep inside of us) to make these meringues!
Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
4 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat the oven to 275°. Make the meringue mixture: In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the sugar with the cornstarch. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, blend the egg whites and the cream of tartar at high speed until the egg whites hold their shape and the whisk leaves a trace in the whites, 3-4 minutes. Put the mixer on medium speed and start adding the sugar mix, tablespoon by tablespoon, and blend at high speed, 5-8 minutes, until the egg whites form stiff peaks. The meringue should be firm and glossy.
2. Bake the meringue: Transfer the meringue mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a star pastry tip. Pipe small rounds of the meringue mix onto a baking sheet fitted with parchment (and sprayed with nonstick spray for good measure). Leave a little room between each meringue. Place the tray on the upper rack in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for about 45 minutes. It should be crusty when touched ever so gently. If it isn’t, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool.
And if you feel like making your own sherbet:
Juice of 2 large lemons and a few grates of zest from one of the lemons
1½ cup granulated sugar
1½ cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream
1. Make the sherbet mix: In a small pot, combine the lemon juice, zest and sugar with ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisk until the sugar dissolves and transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the milk. In a separate bowl, (or in an electric mixer) whip the cream until decently firm (medium peaks). Gently fold the cream into the lemon mixture until blended and transfer to an ice cream maker and freezer according to manufacturer instructions.
2. Assemble and devour: Put a handful of the meringues at the bottom of a serving bowl and scoop the sherbet on top. Top with a few more meringues.
A tip about lemon zest:
I use a microplane grater but a classic box grater is great too. The trick to great lemon zest is not to move the lemon back and forth on the grater. Also, don’t grate deeply in one spot. Grate in one direction lightly over the surface so you get the floral skin layer and oil and leave the bitter white pith layer behind. The same is true for limes that have that soapy note. Grate lightly and gently—skim that outer layer!