Lemon Meringue Cake

Lemon meringue tart is one of my all time favorite desserts - it doesn't get much better than this!
Lemon Meringue Cake

I have a weakness for lemon-y desserts, luckily my husband does too. We have tried a lot (too many?) lemon meringue tarts. Last year I decided to perfect my recipe and make it for my mom’s birthday. Since then I haven’t stopped making it, it’s one of those desserts that everyone loves, it’s light, not too sweet and so satisfying.

It tastes best a day or two after it’s made. I can make it the day before a party, get-together or pot-luck and then just bring out of the fridge like I’m some sort of domestic goddess who magically whipped up something this delicious in minutes. I could rave about this cake for days but just do yourself a favor and try it out. It’s very simple to make but here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • I make the cookie crumbs in a food processor to get a medium/ fine crumb. You can easily crush them up yourself by putting the cookies in a food storage bag and using a rolling pin to crush them.
  • I love the added flavor of browned butter in the crust, but regular melted butter is tastes great too.
  • Make sure you measure the cookie crumbs as crumbs, not as cookies.
  • For the filling, whisk vigorously. If you’re not sure about the consistency of the filling strain it before pouring into the crust.

Start with the Crust:

  1. Combine cookie crumbs (mine were a mix of nilla wafers and homemade graham crackers), with melted butter or browned butter, vanilla and salt. Some cookies may be drier and require a touch more butter.
  2. Press the cookie crust evenly into a spring form pan (the kind where the side detaches from the bottom).  Use your fingers to make sure the whole bottom is covered and then push any extra up the sides.
  3. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Drop the over temperature to 275 degrees.

Make the Filling:

  1. Make the filling by whisking  lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar. Once those are combined add in the heavy cream.  Last mix in the whole eggs and egg yolks. Save and refrigerate the extra egg whites for the meringues.
  2. Gently pour the filling into the crust, and bake at 275 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  It is ready when the sides are totally set, it’s OK if the very middle is still a bit wobbly. Let it come to room temperature before refrigerating and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight.

Finish with Meringues (Although store bought meringues are fine too):

  1. Mix the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar.  Use a hand mixer (or standing mixer) to make the eggs frothy then and add in the confectioner’s sugar.  Once the eggs are almost at soft peaks, add a drop or two of lemon extract.  Continue to whip the eggs until they get stiff.
  2. Once the eggs hold their shape, use a piping bag with a tip to create the mini meringues (Or spoon them on in rounded mounds).
  3. For color, fold over the outside of the piping bag or food storage bag and dab 2 or 3 lines of food coloring along the inside the bag.  Spoon the meringue mixture into the bag and roll the sides back up.  Pipe the meringues onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake them at 275 degrees for 15 minutes.  At the end of the 15 minutes, leave the meringues in the oven with the heat off for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Once the cake has been refrigerated and the meringues have cooled, it’s time to put it all together.  Dust a little powdered sugar on the cake and place the meringues all over. I sometimes like to crush up a couple of meringues in my fingers and add meringue crumbs to the top of the cake instead of powdered sugar.