This one is a little personal, though any of you who love either lemons or Alan Rickman and Jason Isaacs can certainly take advantage of and enjoy this post.
Why the eye candy? Well, although this LEMON TORTE fits all of asiangrrl’s requirements : it is luscious and decadent as well as being flourless and dairy-free (almost, I’ll explain later), it came out looking as ugly as sin! So while you savor the tartness of the lemons, enjoy the sweetness of the dessert, you may just need something a bit more attractive to look at, something hunkier to distract you while you eat.
In my own personal quest to please a friend, I have stumbled across yet another flourless, dairy-free delicious cake. This comes from Anna Thomas’ The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two. I love her books and everything comes out splendidly, so I didn’t feel that I needed to change much in the original recipe. Anyway, one always has to try everything once before tweaking. I did replace the original almond extract with vanilla.
Now, this lemon filling does contain 1 ½ Tbs (about 22 g) butter. That is the only dairy in it, but I have a feeling that it could easily be replaced with dairy-free margarine. The resulting cake is so light it practically melts in your mouth. The lemon filling tastes exactly like my favorite Lemon Tart, which is divine! It is creamy and truly luscious, but not heavy or filling.
But, as I said, ugly as sin! The meringue layers, though a joy to make, came out looking a little rustic and not very elegant. The filling was a bit too neon, glow in the dark for me, shiny like Vaseline. But please don’t let that turn you off. It really is scrumptious. But next time I make it, I will take my 3-inch (8 cm) mold and use it to draw circles on parchment paper on baking sheets, spread the meringue batter evenly in the individual circles and bake slowly. Then I would sandwich pairs of baked meringue cake with the lemon filling then frost with either a simple buttercream or a light whipped cream and then decorate. And serve one tiny Torte per person.
Meringue Cake Layers
1 ¼ cup egg whites (about 6 – 8 eggs)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch
½ tsp vanilla or ¼ tsp almond extract
1 2/3 cups ground almonds
Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C). Butter, line with parchment paper, butter again and flour two ten-inch pans.
In a large bowl (preferably copper or plastic), beat the egg whites with 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form. (I beat them part way until starting to turn from a foam to a cream and then added the sugar gradually, ¼ cup at a time).
Sift or stir together the second cup of confectioner’s sugar with the cornstarch and gradually add it into the egg whites with the vanilla or almond extract, continuing to beat until the whites are very stiff.
Fold in the ground almonds.
Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and, using a spatula, spread until smooth.
Bake in the preheated oven for 1 ½ hours. The cakes will be pulling away from the sides of the pans and the top will be a light golden brown.
Allow the cakes to cook a bit, then turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely. (I found the bottoms of the layers quite sticky – I took them out 5 minutes too soon – and as I was afraid they would stick to the racks I cooled them upside down)
4 Tbs cornstarch
¾ cup cold water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons, depending on how juicy they are)
1 cup granulated (castor) sugar
1 Tbs finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
3 egg yolks
1 ½ Tbs unsalted butter
Combine the cornstarch, water, lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest in a medium-sized saucepan over very low heat.
Stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon, cook slowly for 15 - 20 minutes until the mixture thickens.
Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the 3 eggs yolks, one at a time. Return this mixture to low heat and, stirring, allow to heat for just 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk or stir in the butter.
Allow to cool completely, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t form a skin. (Since I have Le Creuset pans which continue to heat and cook the food for simply hours after it is removed from the heat, I scraped the filling into a glass bowl for the cooling process.)
Assemble the Torte
Place one meringue layer on a serving platter. Spread half the filling on this bottom layer. Carefully place the second cake layer on top and spread the rest of the filling over the top and sides. Decorate as you like.
The next one will be chocolate, I promise….