Over Super Bowl weekend my in-laws were in town from Seattle to help celebrate Roxy’s ninth birthday and, of course, watch the Big Game (yeah, we know how that went). Our weekend thus whiplashed from afternoon tea at a rose petal- and chandelier-filled Glendale shop on Saturday, to the grunting-crashing-leaping-sprinting-tossing-fumbling-guilt-inducing spectacle that is high-stakes pro football on Sunday.
Like many dutiful Americans, we planned a hearty Super Bowl feast (grilled salmon, gougères, quinoa salad and shrimp salad) because the guacamole, tortilla chips, veggies, hummus, shrimp and cheese board that we’d laid out at the start of the game was somehow not going to fill everyone up.
Knowing dessert would need to be a light, barely there affair, I decided to make Meyer Lemon Cream with Graham Crackers and Sea Salt for dessert. I ripped this recipe out of the February 2014 issue of Bon Appétit months earlier intrigued by its simplicity and the sparkling words “Meyer lemon” since that almost always means yummy in my book.
Uncharacteristically, I’d read the recipe through the night before, so I knew the dessert would need to chill two hours prior to serving. Consequently, I got to work around noon, with the kitchen door flung open to the beautiful Los Angeles day.
The simple process started with cooking three eggs, 2/3 cup sugar and ½ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice over medium heat, while “whisking constantly,” for 10 minutes. The goal is to thicken the ingredients without scalding them.
Next, I scraped the pale yellow mixture into my blender and turned it on the lowest speed.
The recipe makes a big deal out of this, warning “you’re not trying to aerate the mixture, so keep blender on low speed.” Problem was: I had no idea if Stir was faster than Mix or Blend faster than Chop on my Osterizer, so I had to punch through the entire lineup of buttons before settling on Grind.
Into the whirlpool of lemony-sugary-egg I gradually added 2 tablespoons of butter that I’d chopped into tiny slices. With each drop of a butter pellet, the blender’s contents grew paler and (slightly) thicker. After finishing, I poured the curd into a glass bowl, covered it and tucked it into the fridge for a few hours of chilling. Then, I zested a lemon and, with the back of a wooden spoon, pounded six graham crackers tucked into a plastic bag into bits.
The results: As the evening light faded into the dark, fuzzy gray that is Mt. Washington at night, I prepared dessert. The game was over, spirits subdued and stomachs more than full.
I pulled the curd out of the fridge. It had firmed up and settled on a cheerful sunshine yellow. I slowly stirred in 1½ cups of chilled heavy cream, which both loosened the curd and returned it to a paler, pastel Easter-party hue. Then, I found four small bowls and spooned a serving of the cream into each one, followed by a sprinkling of the smashed graham crackers, followed by another dollop of cream, followed by a dash of fresh lemon zest and a sprinkling of sea salt. I could’ve really gone for the parfait effect and chosen glass bowls and added two extra layers, but no one needed the extra calories.
I served the group and we all grabbed our spoons.
And, basically, wow.
The Meyer Lemon Cream was incredible: silky smooth, lemony sweet with just the right amount of tart. The graham cracker bits are a brilliant addition giving the luscious curd a perfect, slightly salty crunch, while the zest layers on a refreshing intense pop of citrus juice. The recipe couldn’t be easier (well, I guess the whisking is a bit of a chore) and the results look fresh, inviting and light.
A total winner.