Lemon Meringue Semifreddi
Falling somewhere between mousse and gelato in texture, these semifreddi are made by lightening lemon curd with Italian meringue.
For the Crusts
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs (12 crackers)
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
For the Curd
- 7 large eggs, 3 whole, 4 separated
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
For the Topping
Make the crusts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Spread mixture evenly in a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
Press 3 tablespoons graham mixture firmly into eight 6-ounce glasses. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the curd: Prepare an ice-water bath. Whisk eggs, 3 yolks, and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl; discard remaining yolk, or reserve for another use. Add lemon zest and juice, and salt. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter. Strain through a sieve into a medium bowl, then set in ice-water bath, stirring often, until cold.
Bring corn syrup, water, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook, undisturbed, until syrup registers 248 degrees on a candy thermometer. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
Meanwhile, whisk 4 whites with a mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, and pour hot syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form and mixture is no longer steaming, about 3 minutes. Add a third of meringue to chilled lemon curd, and whisk until smooth. Fold in remaining meringue in 2 additions.
Transfer lemon mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1-inch plain round tip. Pipe on top of graham cracker crust, filling to rim. Freeze until filling firms slightly, about 1 hour. Spoon Italian meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1-inch round plain tip, and pipe into each glass, covering evenly and swirling into a peak.
Hold a small handheld kitchen torch at a 90-degree angle 3 to 4 inches from surface of meringue. Move flame back and forth until meringue starts to brown. Alternatively, heat oven to 500 degrees. Place glasses on a baking sheet, and bake on top rack until meringue begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.