Plated desserts might seem like "pastry chef" territory and far above the reach of a home cook but I promise you, this one is not. If you can make lemon curd and whip some cream, you can make this dessert. If you really want to impress your guest(s), you can go for the quenelle (it takes some practice), but if you're not down for that, just pipe a big dome into the middle. Everyone will be so impressed and wow-ed by your amazing mad skillz either way.
The flavours and textures of this dish are pretty awesome - you've got the tart from the lemon, sweet from the honey, caramel from the honey and the puff, and a little bit of herbaceousness from the thyme. Plus, you've got the creamy, smooth, and crunchy textures - it's all there! It's light and refreshing without being too heavy, so it would be perfect after a super heavy wintery stew or pasta.
Plated desserts really aren't anything to be scared of! It's just a different way of presenting a dessert. You could layer these components in a glass and it would seem less intimidating to make, but the look of a plated dessert is just so much more…. wow! You can also get creative and plate it whatever way you like. Give it a go and play around with your plating! Whatever way you plate it, it will still taste good.
Meyer Lemon Plated Dessert
Makes about 4-6 plates
Meyer Lemon Cream
Recipe from Elements of Dessert
80 g freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
120 g granulated sugar
80 g eggs
100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g heavy cream
7 g gelatin sheets
2.5 g Meyer lemon zest
1 package store bought or homemade puff pastry
Recipe from Elements of Dessert
250 g wildflower honey
100 g water
Candied Thyme Sprigs
6 thyme sprigs
30 g egg white
100 g granulated or superfine sugar
For the lemon cream, combine the lemon juice, sugar, and eggs in a bowl and cook over a hot water bath until the mixture reaches 80 C/175 F. After it reaches that temperature, stir for 3 minutes over the hot water bath.
Take the bowl off the hot water bath and stir in the butter until it is completely dissolved. Let the curd cool to room temperature. Reserve 50 g of the lemon curd and place in the fridge.
Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream to medium-soft peaks and reserve refrigerated. Place the gelatin sheets in ice water to soften. Once softened, squeeze the excess water out.
Add one-quater of the curd to the bloomed gelatin and melt over a hot water bath. Stir the remaining curd into it.
Stir one-quarter of the whipped cream vigorously into the curd with a whisk. Fold half of the remaining whipped cream into the curd with a rubber spatula. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream and the lemon zest. Place in the fridge until it is set, about 3 hours.
For the puff pastry, preheat the oven to 375 F.
Roll out the puff pastry to 5 mm thick and cut into strips 7 cm by 2.5 cm. Place on a silpat lined baking sheet and place in the freezer until the puff is hard, about 10 minutes. When ready to bake, place a second silpat over the puff and place a wire cooling rack on top. This will prevent the puff from rising too much and will keep the layers compact.
Bake the puff until dark golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, remove the wire rack and the top silpat, and let cool. Break into shards and reserve in an airtight container.
For the caramelized honey, place the honey in a medium pot set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium. Meanwhile, bring the water to a simmer. Let the honey simmer until reduced to a dark amber brown. It will reduce by 75%; it will also thicken and therefore water needs to be added to make it lighter.
Once the honey has been reduced, slowly stir in the hot water. You may not need to add all of it. The intention is to have a thick syrup that will act as a sauce.
Cool at room temperature and reserve in an airtight container at room temperature. If stored in these conditions, the honey will keep indefinitely.
For the thyme sprigs, choose the best 6 sprigs of thyme that you have. Gently dip one sprig at a time in the egg wash and use your fingers to squeeze off the excess egg white. Drag the sprig through the sugar and then shake off any excess. Place on a piece of parchment to dry. Repeat with the remaining sprigs.
To assemble, place the 50 g of reserved lemon curd in a piping bag. Place the caramelized honey in a squeeze bottle. Place a spoon in a glass of hot water.
Crumble some puff pastry onto the plate where your lemon cream quenelle will go. Shake off the excess water from the spoon and make a quenelle from the lemon cream and place it on the puff crumbs. Pipe the lemon curd and caramelized honey onto the plate. Add the puff pastry shards. Finally, cut the candied thyme into smaller sprigs and place on the plate.