Meyer lemons, baby puff pastry shells and a holiday dessert that doesn’t break the calorie bank

This doesn't  look real, does it?
This doesn’t look real, does it?

Disaster  narrowly averted at our house this morning: Slicing into a newly baked loaf of Stoic’s oat bread, I started to walk computer-ward with my usual thick crust that I always log as 200 calories. Just for grins, I weighed it before I left the kitchen. Three ounces! An extra 100  calories that I’ve been scarfing down every weekend for a couple of years.

I’m afraid — big sigh — it just proves AGAIN that we can never stop weighing, measuring and logging in our calories if we don’t want to be the size of Greenland in our old age.

On a totally different tack — well, not really, because this is a fabulous dessert for spring holidays without the usual astronomical calorie count. Where have Meyer lemons and tee-einsy puff pastry shells been all my life?

The Meyer lemon (named for the USDA botanist who brought them to the US) is a native of China, probably a cross between a traditional lemon and either a mandarin or usual juice orange. It’s fatter than the lemons you usually buy, sweeter and juicier. It smells and taste different, too, like nothing I’ve sampled before.

I decided to try a lemon curd and found an epicurious.com recipe  to go in those  appetizer-sized puff pastry cups (Pepperidge Farm makes them). In 4 cups you eat only 180 calories; 1/4 cup lemon curd adds about 140; 2 tablespoons of aerated real whipped cream — another 15 That’s a total of 335, which is less than one slab of coconut cake. If you were to top each with a mini-jelly bean or a candied violet petal, you could probably consider those an Easter bonus.

Meyer lemons in a wedding gift bowl.
Meyer lemons in a wedding gift bowl.

You can fill pie or tart shells, use this lemon curd in place of jam on muffins or as cake filling between layers. I’d forgotten until I tasted this today how I always preferred citrus desserts when I was a kid.

 

 

 

Meyer lemon curd

3 to 4 Meyer lemons 

1/2 cup sugar (3/4 cup if you use regular lemons)

2 large eggs

1 stick unsalted butter

Pinch of salt

Finely grate enough zest from lemons to measure 2 teaspoons and squeeze enough juice to measure 1/2 cup. Whisk together zest, juice, sugar and eggs in metal bowl and add butter. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and cook, whisking, until thickened and smooth and an instant-read thermometer registers 160°, about 5 minutes. Force curd through fine sieve set into another bowl. Serve warm or cool completely. Makes about 1 and 2/3 cups; keeps in fridge, covered, about 1 week.

My Revereware double boiler is over 40 years old!
My Revereware double boiler is over 40 years old!
Straining lemon curd removes zest and tiny bits of cooked egg. See how yellow the Meyer lemon curd is!
Straining lemon curd removes zest and tiny bits of cooked egg. See how yellow the Meyer lemon curd is!
DSCN0809
Pop out the centers of the little cups and fill with lemon curd.
Almost ready to be crowning glory of a festive spring dinner.
Almost ready to be crowning glory of a festive spring dinner.

 

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