Sometimes things just look better than they actually are. I saw a picture of sugar coated lemons in cookbook that I was dying to try. They looked so beautiful and sparkly I thought it was a perfect container for lemon pudding, ice cream or mousse. When I finally decided to try it myself, I picked the Frozen Lemon Parfait recipe from The Balthazar Cookbook. The recipe said you could serve slices of this parfait on its own, so I figured it would work well in the lemon shell. I was a little concerned though, since the book didn’t have a picture and I had only seen parfaits made of multiple layers of pudding, whipped cream and fruit before. I decided to trust Balthazar and proceed anyway.
The parfait turned out to be the wrong choice. It looked nice, had a good consistency, but in the end, just didn’t suit my taste. It’s too heavy to eat on its own, and would make a much better component within a layered dessert. I think I was taken in by the idea of creating a “parfait,” but I should have known better and stuck with a simple pudding.
Not to be discouraged, I went on to make the lemon shells. Cleaning out the inside of a lemon is as much work as cleaning out a pumpkin at Halloween. The pulp does not want to separate from the rind, and you have to work hard to cut and pull the insides out. It took me at least 10 minutes to empty one small lemon. Once the lemons were empty, I painted the rind with egg whites, rolled it in sugar, and placed it in the refrigerator to set. It came out just like I saw in the book, but the reality of eating from an empty lemon shell was much less desirable than it seemed. The lemon is an inedible, small container, so you’re left scraping the filling out of flimsy lemon rind you don’t want to eat. Not ideal, especially when it’s filled with a parfait that’s too heavy in the first place.
I’ll note this baking attempt as a learning experience. I may use the lemon parfait as a cake or trifle filling in the future, but never again on its own. A note to the entrepreneurial; I think there’s a market out there for lemon shaped bowls. I would rather fill that with a scoop of ice cream or lemon pudding than a real lemon any day.
Recipe from The Balthazar Cookbook
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 8 small lemons)
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
4 large eggs, separated
Combine the lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stir occasionally, and reduce to 1/2 cup of syrup, about 15 to 20 minutes. Strain.
Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks using the whip attachment on a standing mixer. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Combine the egg yolks and the syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the whip attachment and mix at medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat for 10 minutes until soft peaks form. Scrape the mixture into another bowl and wash and dry the metal mixing bowl and whip attachment. Pour the egg whites into the clean bowl and whisk on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and mix to incorporate, about 10 seconds. Add the lemon-yolk mixture and whisk at low speed to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the reserved whipped cream.
Pour the mixture into a parchment-lined dish (13x18x2 inches.) Press plastic wrap to the surface then freeze.
Sugar Coated Lemons
1. Cut the top off the lemon, leaving just enough to provide a “cap” for the base.
2. Cut a small slice off the bottom of the lemon so it stands evenly on a plate. Take care not to cut too deep so a hole is not formed in the bottom.
3. Pull out the pulp from the inside of the shell. I recommend using a small pairing knife and a grapefruit spoon to carve out the insides until smooth.
4. Using a pastry brush, coat the exterior of the lemon base and top with egg white.
5. Roll the lemons in granulated sugar and set in a dish lined with wax paper. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.
Update: You can buy frozen fruit shells from www.lakelandconfectionary.com