Spring is here and as usual the taste of lemon is biting at my heels to come in the kitchen. I infused two classic desserts together to create a showstopper for any Spring or Summer gathering. With lemon meringue pie on the mind, I was inspired by the French cake mille crêpe, which made of many crêpe layers. The word mille means “a thousand”, implying the many layers of crêpe. Lemon curd is nestled in between the crêpe layers then topped with meringue. This recipe will take you a few days to complete due to the fact that you need to make the lemon curd one day and allow it to set up and another day for the assembled dessert to set up – not doing this will ensure your cake disaster. What makes this curd recipe a little different is I added unflavored gelatin to the recipe so it would thicken and make the dessert layers stable enough to cut and serve.
1 package unflavored gelatin
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 4-6 lemons)
Zest of 2 lemons
16 egg yolks
24 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into slices
Place unflavored gelatin, lemon juice, zest, egg yolks and sugar in a medium heatproof bowl, whisking to combine – set aside.
Meanwhile, in a nonreactive heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until well combined.
Put water into a 3 qt. saucepan and turn heat to medium. Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water. Regulalry mix ingredients with a whisk until mixture becomes thickened, frothy and light in color.
Add butter slices, two at a time and whisk until melted, repeating until all the butter is in the curd. Remove from heat, pour curd into bowl and cover the top of the curd (literally) with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set, at least four hours – preferably overnight.
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 c. whole milk
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
Whisk ingredients together, cover and chill for two hours. Chilling the batter simply helps the batter to handle better – if you do not have the time to chill it – that is fine. I like the batter not being too runny. A tip, or two – I use two crepe pans as it makes light work of what is a quick-cooking recipe. The 8″ deBuyer crepe pans available at Williams-Sonoma are extremely economical and they come with a wooden spatula which is tip #2. After your crepe has cooked on the first side simply place the included spatula across the middle of the pan and tip the pan over. The large amount of butter in crepe recipes act as a lubricant to keep the from sticking. The crêpe will fall onto the wooden spatula. Simply turn the pan right side up back onto the stove and lay the uncooked crepe side back into the pan and finish cooking.
When making the crepes in succession like this, I place a piece of parchment paper on top of a cooling rack and then slide the crepes on top of the parchment, layering them as you continue to make more and more. You may have a few casualties which is fine. You will not use all of the crêpes, but almost all. When you are done, let them cool to room temperature for roughly at least an hour before you begin to assemble. You do not need to cover them as this will cause them to retain their heat.
Place a crepe onto a 8″ cardboard round or directly onto the salver you choose to serve the dessert on. Place roughly 1/3-1/2 c. of lemon curd on top of crêpe and gently spread around to even out (this does not need to be perfect). Repeat by topping with another crêpe and more lemon curd until you run out of lemon curd. Make sure to check your dessert after every 4-5 layers as they make slip/slide which will cause your dessert to be off center. Simply take the last few layers in between your thumb and forefinger and gently tug to center them.
When finished, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight – this step is essential.
5 egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. white vinegar
Place ingredients into a mixer bowl fitted with the whip attachment, and whip until whites develop stiff peaks and are glossy.
Remove cake from refrigerator and using a spatula, place meringue on top of cake – spreading it around to give it the usual peaks and valleys you see on a meringue dessert. Finish meringue by browning using a kitchen torch – serve!