Hi, my name is Molly and I’m a lemon addict.
By now, you guys have heard me rant and rave over my love of anything and everything lemon so many times that you’re probably going up to the corner of your browser window to click the little “X” before I can launch into my usual spiel again. I know, I know. You’ve heard it all before. And I’m sorry…but not really?
My love of lemon, while obnoxious, stems from my love of everything tart. I am a huge fan of sour candies and even have been known to hoard the lemon and lime flavored varieties for myself (which usually works out for everyone else since I’m the only one who likes those colors/flavors). Lemonade is one of my most favorite summer treats. And I’m far more likely to select the lemon bar over the slice of cake at any dessert table.
I can’t help it. I just adore lemon. Especially in desserts. I know I’ve also said this before but as much as I love dark chocolate, lemon desserts trump just about everything else for me. My biggest challenge (blessing? So says my waistline…) with this is that Dan is soooooooo NOT a fan. While I would love to have fresh berries with lemon curd or a honkin’ lemon bar or a big bowl of lemon sorbet for dessert every day of my life, he goes for cookies and cream, brownies, or anything chocolate peanut butter. We can never agree on a dessert to share if we’re out to dinner. I usually just cave and get the chocolate thing, which is fine because it’s not like I hate chocolate or anything (chocolate chip cookies may be the #1 dessert of all time for me. So basic). But lemon always wins my heart.
Which brings me to today’s recipe. Lemon meringue pie is one of my most coveted, infrequently enjoyed treats. I think I’ve eaten it only a handful of times in my life. Because while I’m swooning over it’s creamy lemon layer and pillowy, sweet meringue clouds, other people are eyeing up the triple chocolate brownie sundae with salted caramel fudge sauce. And I lose that battle every time. “Lose” is a relative term, of course…because no one really ever loses when a brownie sundae is involved. Truth.
So today, this dessert is for me. Alllll for me. And I’m not apologizing for it.
Not only are these parfaits super cute and small (mini things make everything seem more fun, right?), but they pack a punch in the flavor department. And totally taste like lemon meringue pie! With a graham cracker crust (which, btw, is my fav pie crust option. So easy and soooo delicious)! They’re adorable and addictingly good. What more could you want? Aside from a brownie sundae, that is. Work with me here, people!
Lemon curd is one of those ingredients that seems really complicated to make, but it truly isn’t! I promise! Once you do it one time, you’re golden. It’s not only cheaper to make your own, but it is so, so, SOOOOO much better than the store-bought varieties. Take it from this lemon addict. I’ve tried them all. Nothing beats homemade (that said, in a pinch, you could make these parfaits with store-bought lemon curd. Whatever works for you. No judgement here).
The same is true for anything marshmallow. Growing up, I was never a huge fan of marshmallows unless they were in rice krispie treats or my hot chocolate. Oh, and on s’mores. Duh. But you would never catch me eating them straight from the bag. It was a texture thing, for sure.
My whole world was changed when I first tasted homemade marshmallow. If you’re not a marshmallow fan and haven’t tried making your own, you’re seriously missing out. My sister is the same as me and claims to “not like marshmallow” that much. But when she tried my homemade version(s), she started singing a different tune.
This particular marshmallow is acting like the meringue in a pie. It’s airy and silky and soft and magical…all while tasting like a heavenly little cloud of sweetness. All the best qualities of good marshmallows…but paired with LEMON! Ahh! Heaven. Again, it’s a lot easier than you think to make marshmallow at home and is so much better than the plastic-y ones from the store.
Between the marshmallow meringue, toasty, buttery graham cracker crumbs, and the tangy lemon curd, you better believe I was in heaven at first bite. I fell in love. And I fell hard.
These cuties really are my perfect dessert. Too bad the hubs is convinced these aren’t for him. I bet he’d come around eventually. In the meantime, more for me!
Zest and juice of 3 large lemons
¾ cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
6 graham crackers
¼ cup old-fashioned oats
¼ cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Put the lemon juice and zest in a pot over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Reduce the heat to low, making sure the mixture is below a simmer, and whisk in the butter and eggs.
Stir almost constantly, keeping the mixture below a simmer, until it thickens, about 8 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the lemon curd, and then cool completely. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to use. Leftover curd can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heat-proof bowl until just combined (I used my stand mixer bowl).
Place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. The water should not touch the bowl.
Whisk constantly for a few minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites are warm.
Remove the bowl from the heat and place it on your stand mixer (alternatively, use a hand mixer). Beat the mixture with the whisk attachment, slowly at first, and then gradually increase the speed. Beat on high for 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture is thick, glossy, and pillowy. Beat in the vanilla extract until combined.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the graham crackers, oats, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until fine crumbs form.
Stream in the butter and vanilla extract and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand. Pulse in the salt.
Spread the mixture out on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until golden brown and toasty.
In small glasses or bowls, place some of the crumble. Top with the lemon curd and then the marshmallow meringue. Repeat layering until all the ingredients are used up, ending with a layer of the meringue on top. If desired, using a kitchen torch, lightly toast the top layer of meringue and then garnish with a little more of the crumble.
You can serve these immediately or store them in the fridge until you are ready. They will keep for several days in the fridge.
Marshmallow meringue adapted from here.