Friday, December 24, 2010

Mmmmmeyer Lemons

I love this time of year not just because of Christmas but also because it is Meyer Lemon Season!!! I KNOW that's exactly what you were thinking, too! It's so OBVIOUS. It's practically synonymous with winter. Hooray for MEYER LEMON SEASON!!!!!

Ok, I realize perhaps not everyone is enamored of this little hybrid fruit as much as I am. I think we've already established on this blog that I'm not normal. My Meyer lemon love affair began long ago, when my grandfather planted a Meyer lemon tree in his backyard in San Clemente, CA. Each winter, my grandparents would ship several pounds of the tree's bounty to us and for December and January, our crisper drawers runneth over with the sweet-tangy-peppery scent of Meyer lemons. Back in the 1980s, Meyers were unheard of elsewhere in the country, and I still feel like they are a little exotic even though they are now so plentiful in San Francisco in December that they are practically a commodity.

My grandparents moved from San Clemente long ago, and both have since passed away, but in keeping with our family's winter tradition, I brought three pounds of Meyer Lemons home with me for the holidays. This cost approximately $6 for the lemons and $600 for the "shipping." I always hand carry them because I am afraid my precious cargo will freeze in my checked luggage. Even though my toiletries don't freeze. Whatever. Love isn't always rational.

For our Christmas Eve dessert this year, I decided to branch out and try a new Meyer lemon recipe instead of the usual lemon bars and no lemon meringue pie.  I wish I could have taken more pictures but the family ate it all before I had a chance to snap a few more.

Oh, I should add - this recipe is adapted from one on Epicurious. Full disclosure: I intentionally adapted it by adding lemon zest and serving it with whipped cream instead of just cream; I unintentionally "adapted" it by accidentally leaving out the butter. It turned out great, anyway. I'm leaving out the butter from now on.

Kate's Meyer Lemon Souffle Cake
adapted from this recipe on Epicurious
Makes 6 servings

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar, divided
4 large eggs, separated
Zest from 2 Meyer lemons
Juice from 2 Meyer lemons (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream (ideally not from a can, and whipped softly, i.e. not too much)
Assorted fresh berries (I used raspberries)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a ceramic souffle dish, or 6 individual ramekins or any glass or ceramic dish approximately 8x8x2 inches. Or thereabouts. I think you can bake this in practically anything glass or ceramic that's approximately that size. Deep dish pie plate would probably be fine, too.

Blend buttermilk, 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, zest, flour, and salt in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Gently fold buttermilk mixture into whites in 3 additions (batter will be runny).

Prior to baking.

Pour batter into prepared dish. Place dish in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come about halfway up sides of dish. Bake until entire top is evenly browned and cake moves very slightly in center but feels slightly springy to touch, about 50 minutes (ramekins will take less time; start checking them at 25 minutes). Remove dish from roasting pan.

This won't actually puff up above the rim of the dish like a souffle, but the texture is similar.
 Let's go in for a close up.

 Cool cake completely in baking dish on rack. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours. To serve, spoon souffle cake out into shallow bowls. Put a dollop of whipped cream on cake. Top with berries.

And that was dessert. It was light and almost refreshing after a fairly rich meal. I think it is safe to say that with only adults in the house this year, we've outgrown the "Baby Jesus Birthday Cake," i.e. Baskin-Robbins ice cream roll filled with peppermint and mint chocolate chip ice cream. I can't say I'm sorry to see it go.

Nutrition information for the above serving (1/6 of the cake), including berries and a dollop of whipped cream:

Merry Christmas!

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