If you love lemons as much as I do, you will flip for this pretty parfait, which is basically a lemon meringue pie in a glass. A tangy lemon curd is spooned or piped over a light lemon cream base, and a crunchy graham cracker streusel is sprinkled on the bottom and top. The parfait it topped with a big dollop of Italian meringue which you can brulée with a kitchen torch, preferably in dramatic fashion in front of your guests (taking care not to set the tablecloth on fire).
Makes 6 servings
Graham Cracker Streusel:
- 5 whole graham crackers, crushed (to yield ¾ cup/76 grams of crumbs)
- 2 tablespoons (27 grams) light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Large pinch of fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons (16 grams) slivered blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
- 3 ½ tablespoons (49 grams) unsalted butter, melted
Lemon Curd and Cream:
- 4 large (200 grams) eggs
- 4 large (74 grams) egg yolks (save 2 of the egg whites to use for the meringue)
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (160 grams) freshly squeezed strained lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
- 1 tablespoon (6 grams) finely grated lemon zest
- ½ cup (116 grams) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) water
- 2 large (60 grams) egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Make the streusel
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and almonds. Add the melted butter and stir the mixture until it is blended and forms some clumps (it will be a combination of crumbs and clumps). Spread the streusel over the prepared baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, tossing halfway through baking, until nicely browned. Cool completely. (Once cool, store the streusel in an airtight container at room temperature.)
Make the Lemon Curd and Mousse
- Fill a medium saucepan one-third of the way with water and heat the water until it is barely simmering. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and salt until blended. Place the bowl over the saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until it is uniformly pale and thickened to the consistency of thin mayonnaise, about 8 minutes. Remove the bowl from over the saucepan of water and whisk in the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until each piece is incorporated before adding the next. Whisk in the lemon zest. Put half of the mixture into a medium bowl, cover both bowls with plastic wrap, letting the plastic touch the curd, and set aside at room temperature while you whip the cream.
- Put the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip it at medium-high speed until medium-firm peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the lemon curd in the medium-size bowl.
- Sprinkle a layer of the streusel in the bottom of 6 dessert glasses. Spoon or pipe the lemon cream on top, leveling the tops if necessary. Spoon or pipe a layer of lemon curd on top of the cream in each glass. Loosely cover the parfaits with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Make the meringue
- Make the meringue up to 6 hours before you are ready to serve the desserts. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over high heat, brushing down sides of pan as necessary with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystallization. Cook until the syrup registers 240°F on a thermometer. While the syrup is cooking, begin whipping the egg whites.
- Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix at medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the hot sugar syrup. Increase the speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (Ateco #808). Pipe a large dollop of meringue on top of the lemon curd layer on each dessert. If you are not serving the desserts right away, refrigerate them. If you are, using a handheld butane or propane torch, brulée each meringue dollop to a beautiful golden color. Sprinkle with some of the streusel and serve immediately.