Over the past few years it has become very fashionable in France to serve desserts verrine-style, meaning layered in a glass. Here is my version of a deconstructed lemon tart. As refreshing as it is delicious, it couldn’t be simpler, yet looks special – the perfect summer dessert.
2 egg whites table salt
110 g caster sugar
Almond shortcrust pastry
125 g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
90 g icing sugar
30 g ground almonds
250 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 × 4 g sheet (or 2 × 2 g sheets)
titanium-strength gelatine (see page 208)
250 ml lemon juice, strained
1 egg yolk
375 g caster sugar
50 g custard powder, sifted
150 g unsalted butter, chopped
1 Preheat the oven to 120°C.
2 Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar, whisking until thick and glossy. Spread the meringue evenly over the prepared baking paper-lined baking tray.
3 Reduce the oven temperature to 90°C. Bake the meringue for 1½ hours or until crisp. Turn the oven oﬀ and leave the meringue to cool completely in the oven. Break the cooled meringue into small pieces. (Any leftover meringue can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.)
4 Preheat the oven to 180°C.
5 To make the pastry, place the butter, egg, icing sugar and ground almonds in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth and well combined. Add the ﬂour and continue to beat until the dough just comes together. Place the dough on a lightly ﬂoured work surface and roll out to form a 40 cm × 30 cm rectangle. Carefully transfer to a large baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15–20 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool completely, then break into large pieces. Set aside.
6 To make the lemon curd, place the gelatine in a small bowl of cold water and leave for 5 minutes or until softened. Place the lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring just to the boil. Place the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and custard powder in a large heatproof bowl, then stir in the lemon juice. Transfer the lemon mixture back to the saucepan, then cook over medium heat for 6–8 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat.
7 Drain the gelatine and squeeze out any excess water, then whisk into the lemon mixture until well combined. Leave to cool for 15 minutes or until cooled to room temperature. Stir in the butter and mix until well combined. (Makes 500 ml. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.)
8 Half-ﬁll four 250 ml capacity serving glasses with lemon curd, then scatter with meringue and pastry. Serve.