Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Citrus Curd with Crisp Meringue Caps - A Lemon-Lime Pie #RecipeRedux

 Summer always seems to scream citrus to me. Even though we don't get the best of the batch in the middle of August, it's hard to pass up a bright, tart lemonade or a scoop of tangy strawberry-lime sorbet served on the back porch. The acidity of the lemon / lime combination is a fresh pop to the day, especially for those of us who (like my family) spend every second they can outside. We're huge gardeners here, and with a summer reaching record after record temperatures the tomatoes and peppers (not to mention the weeds!) have kept us busy - and always in need of refreshment.

My mom is a huge fan of key lime pie - ideally served up in Florida from J.J. Gandy's (who we used to hit up every time we traveled to Tampa). Even as a five or six year old, I knew that pie was special, and we never had it any other time than when we were down south. We'd get a whole pie for the hotel suite's fridge (after requisite groceries at the Publix in the same parking lot!) plus a slice for each of my parents. I wasn't sure at the time if I really liked the confection enough for my own serving (I opted for something chocolatey at Publix), but I never passed up a taste of mom's every time we travelled!

 My stepdad, on the other hand, is a lemon meringue fan, which he can only have on special occasions thanks to his diabetes and penchant for overindulging in the sugary topping! I always found it strange that he liked the confection since he is vehement in his hate for anything "creamy" - but there you are. Like mom, I prefer my pies unadorned by whipped cream, meringue or fancy garnishes, especially something as rich and dense as a custard based tart!

As fresh- and light-tasting as these citrusy pastries are, though, they are deceptively rich: a modest slice of either (without whipped cream or ice cream on the side!) can easily run between 375-450 calories, with up to 14 grams of fat, 70 grams of carbs and over 20% of your daily intake of cholesterol! While I'm not saying that pie of any kind is designed to be a health food, for barely a taste of that awesome filling it seems a bit "expensive" nutrients wise. I could never ask anyone - family, friend or nutrition client - to give up something they adore, and really moderation is key... but sometimes it's nice to give in without considering what you might have to sacrifice later.

Thankfully, I've been able to finangle a bit of a "fix" for the family's citrus pie addictions that is light enough nutritionally to enjoy every night if they so wanted. I packed all the best things about a lemon or lime pie into a creamy, smooth curd that doesn't have to be baked - and with so much flavour there just wasn't room for a crust! I did want to add a bit of texture dimension with the dessert, and evoke a bit of the feel of a meringue topping. Instead of breaking out pastry or making a marshmallowy cloud, I combined crispy and light in little meringue cookie spirals. I used those as "caps" on each teacup of curd, which in the end made them look like cappuccinos!

The resulting product was fantastic - the filling (which I greatly adapted from Fifi O'Neill's "Lemon Sour Cream Pie" in The Romantic Prairie Cookbook) was a fairly basic custard with eggs (from my soon to be stepsister-in-law's mom's chickens!) and thickened with tapioca starch, laced with the zest and juice of both 2 lemons and 2 limes. For a more tropical element (as well as more creaminess), I used some Coconut Dream® along with the water and juice, and added a touch of coconut extract at the end. Instead of sour cream, I used my (and my mom's) favourite, organic nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and though I did add the touch of butter at the end, it was in my opinion a necessary component in preserving the rich texture of the dessert.

This month for the #RecipeRedux we're sharing our Most Memorable Vacation Meals. Now, I don't consider pie a meal (though it does have a protein, starch, and usually some sort of produce!) that key lime pie from Tampa was such an integral part of our vacation dinners that I had to share.

Citrus Curd with Crisp Meringue Caps
Makes 6 (1/2 cup) servings

Meringue Caps
1 tbsp meringue powder (see note below)
1 1/2 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar
pinch salt
few drops vanilla extract
few drops lemon extract

1 cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons
zest of 2 limes
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon / lime juice (this was about equal to the lemons and limes I zested)
3/4 cup original Coconut Dream® (not coconut milk), hot
3/4 cup water, hot
1 tbsp salted butter
1/2 cup Greek style, nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 tsp coconut extract

Meringue Caps
  1. Preheat the oven to 225F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Beat the meringue powder and water together in a small, deep bowl for 1 minute, then spoon in the sugar and salt and beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. Beat in the extracts.
  4. Scrape into a piping bag (or zip-top bag with the corner snipped) and pipe spiral discs on the parchment.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  6. Turn off the oven and allow to cool 2 hours inside.
  1. Combine the sugar, zests and starch in a saucepan and whisk in the eggs. Place over medium heat.
  2. Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, then whisk in the juice.
  3. Slowly whisk in the hot Coconut Dream and hot water.
  4. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  5. Let bubble, whisking often, for one minute longer.
  6. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until smooth, then add the Greek yogurt and coconut extract and whisk in until well combined.
  7. Spoon into individual serving cups or ramekins, lightly press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of each to prevent a skin forming, and refrigerate 3-4 hours.
  1. Remove the cups from the fridge and place a meringue cap onto the surface of each curd.
  2. Serve within 30 minutes of assembly, but this is best eaten immediately.

  • The caps can be made a week ahead of time and kept away from heat and moisture up to 1 week.
  • If you do not have tapioca starch, substitute 5 tbsp cornstarch.
  • I used meringue powder because it was such a small amount needed and I didn't want a bunch of leftover egg yolks.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 232.1
Total Fat: 4.3 g
Cholesterol: 67.0 mg
Sodium: 70.3 mg
Total Carbs: 45.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1 g
Protein: 4.9 g


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