This is one of my favourite desserts and a great recipe to share. The sharp silky smooth curd with a hint of nutty butter is complemented by the sweetness of the meringue with the red currant adding a great hit of sharpness. This recipe is a great addition to any menu or to simply cook at home to share with friends & family.
For the shortbread base
6 lemon zest
1 egg beaten for egg wash
For the curd
490g caster sugar
420g Lemon juice freshly squeezed
6 lemon zest
4 Gelatine leaves ( 12g)
325g Butter cubed
200g Eggs whites
200g Eggs whites
Candied lime zest
10 Limes peeled and thinly sliced
Red currant gel
500g Red Currant puree
6g Agar Agar
To make the shortbread base, heat the oven to 160c. Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Gently mix in the flour being sure not to over mix.
Roll out to 1/2cm thickness chill for 1 hour. Bake @ 160 for 8-10mins until evenly golden brown. While still warm push frame onto the biscuit, egg wash well being sure to fill any gaps around the edge of the frame. Place back into the oven for a further minute. Leave to cool completely.
For the curd make a beurre noisette with the 130g butter, pass through a muslin cloth and set aside. Soak the gelatine in ice-cold water. Place the eggs, lemon juice, and sugar into a bowl over a pan of simmering water, keep whisking until the temperature reaches at least 83C. Remove from the heat, squeeze any excess liquid from the gelatine and add to the curd whisking in well. Add the cubed butter and beurre noisette whisking until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve to remove the zest.
Pour 1.5kg into the baked shortbread base and chill. This will take 2-3 hours to set, once set using a hot sharp knife cut into 4cmx10cm portions being sure to get a clean cut on each slice.
To make the meringue drops line a baking tray or dehydrator Silpat mat or baking paper with baking paper. Make a Swiss meringue by placing the egg whites & caster sugar into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves, the temp should not exceed 50c, once this temperature is reached remove from the heat and continue to whisk until fluffy & cool. This can be transferred to a mixer for the final stage. Place the meringue into a piping bag with a 1/4in plain nozzle and pipe drops onto the baking tray, as you go to pull the nozzle away push back down to create nice peaks. To jazz these up you can zest over fresh lemon juice or sprinkle some freeze-dried raspberries over. Place into the dehydrator until crisp. If you don't have a dehydrator place into the oven on the lowest setting with the door slightly open.
For the candied lime zest peel the limes with a speed peeler, remove all of the pith with a small knife and slice as thinly as possible. Boil a small pan of water and place the lime zest in for 2minutes. Strain and repeat a further 2 times. To sweeten place the 200g of caster sugar into a small pan with 200ml of water, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer, add the lime zest and simmer for 5mins remove from the heat and cool
Finally, make the red currant gel, mix the sugar and the agar-agar. Place the red currant puree in a thick based pan over a medium heat. When just about to boil add the sugar mix and bring to the boil for 1 minute. Pass through a fine sieve and chill until firm. Blitz to a smooth gel adding a little cold water if stiff.
To serve you will need to make the Italian meringue, place the egg whites in a clean bowl for a kitchen aid or mixer and place at a slow speed. Meanwhile place the sugar into a thick based pan and cover with a little water, place over a high heat and bring to the boil. Keep checking the temperature until it reaches 121C. Remove from the heat and turn the mixer up to medium speed, the whites should be a little fluffy by this point. Slowly pour the sugar onto the egg whites until half of the sugar has been added. Turn the mixer up to full speed the whites will go thick and fluffy, at this point add the remaining sugar, this helps give a marshmallow texture. Keep whisking on full speed until the meringue has fully cooled. Place into a piping bag with a 1/4in plain nozzle.
Take the lemon bars and pipe 7 drops one to the right then one to the left to the end of the bar. These can be pre-piped before serving. Keep the remaining meringue to plate.
Take a plate or a slate and pipe 2 large drops of meringue on either side, when piping pushing up and down into the meringue to create a ripple effect. Back spoon both drops into the centre of the plate. Use a blowtorch to give a toasted effect also blow torch the drops on top of the lemon bar. Place the lemon bar into the centre of the plate, pipe the lemon gel in three drops evenly on top of the bar and one either side. Evenly place the candied lime zest & meringue drops over the top and along the sides. Add a few sprigs of lemon balm and finally crush a few meringue drops over the top.