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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
Lifestyle Stories

Dessert in a jar puts new twist on treat

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I recently attended a party thrown by blogger Isabel Reis Laessig at Dough in Tampa. It was for the launch of the book “Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats That Shine” by Shaina Olmanson. (Harvard Common Press, $16.95).

Of the several sweets on the menu that day, the lemon meringue pie in a jar, was outstanding, with lots of zesty flavor.

“In a day and age where so much of what we use day in and day out is disposable, using glass jars as a serving mechanism or a gifting vessel for dessert is a way to make the entire package reusable,” Olmanson writes. “Jars are containers that have a multitude of usage possibilities.

For the lemon meringue recipe, herbed shortbread is used as the crust, adding a twist to an old favorite.

Lemon Meringue Pies

Makes 10 individual lemon meringue pies.

For the shortbread crust:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

For the lemon filling:

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups water

1 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 4 lemons

Grated zest of 4 lemons

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

8 large egg yolks, beaten

For the meringue:

8 large egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

Make the dough for the crusts: Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed. Mix together the flour, cornstarch and thyme in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated.

Have ready 10 wide-mouth 8-ounce jars. Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Shape the dough into a long cylinder with a diameter 1/2 inch smaller than the diameter of the jars you are using. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice ¼-inch slices of dough from the roll and place a slice in the bottom of each jar. Place the jars 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet. Bake the crusts for 10 minutes until just lightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium-size saucepan. Mix in the water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stir in the butter until it is melted. Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Slowly pour § cup of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks, whisking continuously to temper the eggs. Whisk the egg yolks into the saucepan. Bring to a boil again and continue to cook over medium-high heat until the lemon filling is thick, about 5 minutes. Spoon the filling into the warm jars over the crust.

To make the meringue: In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Beat at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon or pipe the meringue over the lemon filling in the jars, mounding it in the center to create peaks.

Place the jars 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet. Bake the pies for 10 minutes, or just until the meringue is golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool completely and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Serve cold.

Leftover requests

Beth Mainello of Tampa wants to make the salad dressing that was made tableside at Tio Pepe’s restaurant in Clearwater. She also wants to know what type of lettuce was used.

Robin Rogoff wants the recipe for Circles Bistro’s chicken Marsala with rice pilaf.

Susan Stevens wants to make the spaghetti sauce and salad dressing recipes served at the now-closed Gus’ Italian restaurants in Tampa.

Eva Ebert wants the recipe for the mixed greens salad with vinaigrette and grilled chicken she used to enjoy at the now-closed El Pilon Restaurant in South Tampa.

Recipes Lost & Found runs every other Sunday in Baylife. Seeking a recipe? Email jhouck@tampatrib.com, or write to Jeff Houck, The Tampa Tribune, P.O. Box 191, Tampa, FL 33601.

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