Monday, March 7, 2011

Lemon Meringue Thumbprint Cookies

I've been working on variation of these cookies for a long time - with a sugar cookie dough, in a larger size, the curd added before or after baking...but my work is finally and truly done with these. A bite of crispy sweet meringue with just a touch of mouth-puckering lemon curd: perfection.

One of my biggest obstacles was making sure I actually had enough of a "thumbprint" space to fill with lemon curd. I ensure this two ways: first, I piped circles of meringue on to my baking sheet, then came around again to pipe a ring on top. Then, part way through the baking I use the bowl of a teaspoon measurement to press down on the centers to ensure they don't rise too much. 
It was also key to beat my meringue until really stiff - it took some time but was definitely worth it in the end.
After baking, as I was carefully filling my little white nests with bright yellow curd, I was suddenly struck by how much they looked like fried eggs. Very, very small fried eggs. But I'd much rather have one of these on my plate any day.
I discovered a recipe for microwave lemon curd on My Baking Addiction last week...and I'm totally sold! I honestly can't see myself making it the old fashioned way anymore - this was a thousand times easier and just as amazingly delicious. It probably took me three times as long to zest my lemons (with my trusty microplane, of course) than to cook.
I know that pairing lemon and meringue is hardly a revolutionary concept, but the utter simplicity of these was seriously addictive. Since I love mini cookies (and like to justify eating 3...or 6), mine were only about 1" across. You could make these bigger, but I wouldn't go too big, as I think there's a bigger risk of the meringues cracking.

Purim is coming! If you celebrate this holiday, or simply like triangular shaped cookies, check back later this week for my hamataschen adventures. (This was last year.)

Previously: Lemon Squares, Lemon Tartlets, Lemon Scented Bread and Lemon Cream Tart.

Tip of the Day: Making these without a piping bag would be a bit more challenging. I used a #21 tip (which is about equivalent in size to a #9) to make both the bases and the rings. I've accumulated various tips over time for different projects, but this kit is a good starting point. Also, I'm totally lazy, but I love my disposable piping bags. Cleaning those things sucks.

4 egg whites
2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
about 1 cup lemon curd (recipe below)

Beat the egg whites on medium until foamy - about 1 minute. Gradually add in the sugar and continue beating. Beat the mixture until stiff peaks form - any where from 10 to 20 minutes. You should be able to hold a spoon of meringue upside down without it sliding off by the time you count to 5.
Fill a piping bag with the meringue. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pipe 1" circles on to the paper. Then go back over and pipe rings around the top of the circles.
Bake on 250 F for 20 minutes - remove from oven and use the bowl of a teaspoon measurement to press down any centers that have risen too high - they may crack slightly, this is fine. Return to the oven for an additional 40 minutes, until the bottoms peel off easily and appear done. Let cool.
Carefully spoon 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of lemon curd in to the center of each cookie. Store in the refrigerator.

Lemon Curd ** (adapted from My Baking Addiction)
It is a touch ironic that this lemon curd recipe uses whole eggs, while my old one uses egg yolks - since I can't use the spare whites for meringue. That said, making this curd in the microwave was so amazingly simple I don't think I'll be turning back. 

1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup fresh lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
zest of 3 lemons - about 3 teaspoons
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Whisk together the sugar and eggs in a microwave proof bowl until combined. Pour in the lemon juice and lemon zest and whisk until well mixed, then add in butter and continue whisking until uniform.
Microwave at 1 minute intervals, stirring at each break. Jamie at My Baking Addiction says it should take 3 to 5 minutes; I took exactly 5 1/2, switching to 30 second intervals after 4 minutes. Let cool to at least room temperature before using. Store covered in the fridge.**

**This recipe makes way more than you need for the cookies - cut it down or find another use for the rest of the amazing curd! I recommend eating it off a spoon.


  1. These are adorable! They would be perfect for pesach too!
    I can't wait to make some.

  2. I didn't even think of that but you're so right! I'll have to add these to my list for Pesach baking!


  3. Thanks for the recipe. With all my lemons on the tree I needed some way to use them!

  4. They do look like eggs.