Lemon Meringue Shortbread S’mores

Summer, Sweet Recipes • 27 Jun 2015

Gripped with a tremendous fear in the midst of a silent night, a gleam of moisture pooled in the corner of my eye. My heart radiated fire, sharp orange lightening bolts; an unfamiliar heat. My skin awashed with prickly fieriness, my heart began fluttering like a deranged bird’s wings. I lay helpless, fists clamped, terrified and wet with honey-colored sweat. Spring came in like a roaring lion.

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Sterile hospital smells burdening my sensitive nose; doctors spoke their own language, their jargon swimming in my ears, a phantasmagoric daydream. A heart attack was out of the question, and thank goodness. I’m young. I’m a mom. Life is precarious with all its twisted turns and frenzied surprises, though I’m not ready to catapult toward the unknown.

The fear and paranoia did not subside with my diagnosis, though, and the next month involved a cluster of medicine, doctor’s visits and blood tests, my life whirring along as a series of dusty shadows. My swollen heart, and I had been diagnosed with just that, was raw and jagged and undulating to a different beat. Stress is oppressive like the rain, a musty dampness overwhelming the early spring air and permeating my skin.

I fought through spring with exhaustion, clusters of rotting cherry and rhododendron blossoms littering the sidewalks, signaling the bleeding of the months. I watched the moon wax and wane, hopeful and grateful, eschewing the unforgiving season; ready to fade into summer.

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And here we are. Summer. Warm and muggy and unforgiving but how beautiful it is! I’m so grateful for the warmth and sun and my health. For my son and husband, who was the most supportive, most relentless hard working person during my spring. I’m so lucky, though sometimes I need to be reminded of my good fortune; sometimes a minor hardship is required to shake up my emotions.

Father’s Day just passed and we didn’t do much. We toured our still-newish quaint little town, went to the farmer’s market and made lemon meringue s’mores. S’mores are one of my husband’s favorite desserts, and so is lemon meringue. I used homemade shortbread for our s’mores, which is flaky and subtly sweet, dense and rich and crumbly. Lemon curd is rich in a different way- creamy, joyously thick and luxuriously silken. I love making lemon curd, a tart, glossy custard. The kitchen smells hauntingly of citrus oil, the lemons emitting bursts of bright notes in the air, on you hands, beneath your nails. Cooking with lemons is all-encompassing.

It would have been fun to roast marshmallows over a live, crackling fire, but we had to settle for the humble stove since rain was in the forecast. The stove flame did a fine job of marshmallow roasting, the edges evenly toasted, the inside soft and ecstatically gooey.

The s’mores were positively sublime. Sweet and messy and completely fun to eat. They tasted of burnt sugar, campfires and summer. I’m so grateful for summer, and for my family, who propels me over life’s speed bumps.

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Lemon Meringue Shortbread S’mores

16 pieces shortbread (recipe below)
Lemon curd (recipe below)
16 marshmallows (I used Ina Garten’s recipe, but store bought would work fine)

1. Spread about a tablespoon of lemon curd on 8 shortbread cookies.

2. If using a propane chef’s torch, place a marshmallow on top of the lemon curd and lightly burn the marshmallow until slightly browned and bubbling. If using a stove flame, put the marshmallow on the end of a skewer and toast until evenly browned.

3. Top each marshmallow with another cookie and eat immediately.

Shortbread:
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in salt and flour, by hand, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is crumbly. Pour out dough onto a clean counter top and knead until the dough is smooth. Roll into a ball and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until about 1/2-inch thick, and about the size of the baking sheet. If the dough is sticking to your rolling pin, sprinkle with a light dusting of flour. If the dough cracks, it is too cold. Wait a few minutes before attempting to roll it out again.

4. Place the sheet of dough on baking sheet and bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes. Immediately cut shortbread into 3-inch squares. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet. You should get about 16 cookies.

Lemon Curd:
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon olive oil

1. In a double boiler or stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cornstarch. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture. Add olive oil and whisk. Let cool.

3. Cover immediately with plastic wrap so a skin doesn’t form and refrigerate for up to a week. Will yield 1 1/2 cups.

One Response

  1. Heather Cowen

    Lemon meringue pie was one of my grandmother’s best recipes. And I love lemon curd. You write beautifully! Your recipe is a novel combination of two wonderful childhood summer memories and I’m going to love trying it.

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