SUNDAE SUNDAY: Torched lemon meringue ice cream tart with a no-bake ginger graham cracker crust

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I’m on vacation (slash pupternity leave) this week, and while today is my first day off from work, I lost track of time so quickly that I didn’t appropriately plan for this week’s Sundae Sunday. You might have noticed the absence of a poll on Instagram to choose a theme, and also observed that this post is going live on Monday rather than Sunday.

Even with proper planning, I luckily already had a concept in mind: an ice cream version of lemon meringue pie. The idea first took flight when half of my Pastry Fundamentals students made lemon curd tarts in class a few weeks ago, and I wondered how I could transform that tart into a frozen treat.

My plan of attack: swap out lemon curd and swap in lemon ice cream, use a no-bake graham cracker crust that’s heavy on ground ginger and absent of cinnamon because ginger pairs with lemon so nicely, make a tart instead of a pie so the slices are prettier (and smaller), and top with torched meringue because who doesn’t love using a blowtorch in the kitchen?

For winging it, this combination of components turned out a delicious and relatively easy end product, and I can attest that it makes a splendid breakfast in addition to dessert.  One of my lemon-obsessed friends is visiting in November, and you can better believe I’ll be making it for her when she’s here.

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SUNDAE SUNDAY: Torched lemon meringue ice cream tart with a no-bake ginger graham cracker crust

By: Kathleen Hayes; component attributions and yields are listed below

Baker’s notes: my Sundae Sunday recipes are on-the-fly in nature, so they’re not as thoroughly tested as my other recipes.  If making again, I’d up the sugar in my meringue to 150g and use only brown sugar (no white sugar), and I’d pipe my meringue on top for a more polished finish.

Ginger graham cracker crust - adapted from Baking a Moment; yield = 1 ½ cups of crumbs (enough for 1, 9” tart)

MISE IT

  • 1 ½ cups graham crackers, crushed into crumbs (9 graham crackers if you take a shortcut like I did and use store-bought)

  • 113g butter, melted (1 stick)

  • 100g (organic) brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

MAKE IT

  • Melt butter.

  • Crush graham crackers or process with a food processor. (I put my graham cracker pieces in a piping bag and used a rolling pin to break up.)

  • Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, and ground ginger in a medium mixing bowl.

  • Pour the melted butter in and stir until the dry ingredients have absorbed all the butter and are moistened.

  • Dump the crumb mixture into your tart shell and use a measuring spoon to press the crust down on the bottom of the pan first and then up the sides of the tart pan.

  • Pop the crust in the freezer to harden.

Lemon ice cream - adapted from the humphry slocombe ice cream book; yield = 1 quart

MISE IT

  • 480g heavy cream (~2 cups)

  • 240g whole milk (~1 cup)

  • 185g (organic) sugar

  • 80g lemon juice (~⅓ cup)

  • 48g egg yolks (~3 eggs)

  • 3 pinches of kosher salt

MAKE IT

  • Create an ice bath for your final mixture to cool down in a large mixing bowl.

  • In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk, and salt.  Heat over medium or medium-high until it’s just at a soft boil, then remove from heat.

  • Whisk together your sugar and egg yolks until combined. This will form a thick paste.  Then whisk in your lemon juice.

  • Temper your egg mixture by ladling (or carefully pouring straight from the pan) ¼  - ⅓ cup of your hot cream mixture into the bowl with your eggs+sugar, whisking constantly to start melding the two mixtures together.  Repeat with a few more ladles worth of the cream mixture, and then transfer the tempered mixture back into your saucepan.

  • Over medium-high heat, heat your base and use a spatula to draw figure-8s shapes repeatedly through the mixture to keep everything moving so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Do this until it thickens slightly and reaches a temperature of 170 - 172 F, then pour your mixture through a chinoise or fine-meshed strainer into a container over an ice bath.

  • Stir periodically and let mixture cool down to room temperature.  Then let mixture chill for at least an hour and up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

  • Before you spin your ice cream: place a baking dish and spatula in the freezer (I use the smaller of these two dishes) so your extra finished ice cream will go into a chilled container and not melt.  Also be sure your tart shell is in the freezer, too.

  • Follow the instructions for your ice cream machine and spin your ice cream.  If your machine’s bowl isn’t your final storage container, transfer your finished ice cream from the machine to a) the graham cracker tart shell until it’s full, and then b) a chilled baking dish and let it set for a few hours.

Two-sugar Italian meringue

MISE IT

  • 3 egg whites, ~100g (leftover from using yolks for your ice cream base)

  • 50g (organic) brown sugar

  • 50g (organic) white sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • Water, for soaking the sugar

MAKE IT

  • Combine egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and start mixing on medium-low with a whisk attachment.  Adjust the speed accordingly until you have stiff peaks by the time your sugar is ready to be added.

  • In a small saucepan, add your brown and white sugars and enough water to coat your sugar granules entirely.  With a wet finger, ensure there aren’t any lingering granules of sugar on the sides of your pan.

  • Heat your sugar over medium-high heat until it reaches 244 degrees F.  At this point your egg whites should be fairly mixed and resemble stiff peaks.

  • Lower the mixer speed to low and (carefully!) pour your sugar into the whipping egg whites.  Once entirely added, crank up the speed to medium high and let mix until the sides of the mixing bowl are just warmer than room temp and your meringue has reached stiff peaks.

Special equipment across all components

  • Ice cream maker

  • Chinoise or fine-mesh strainer

  • Thermometer (I like my Thermapen)

  • 9” tart pan with removable sides

  • Stand mixer

  • Blow torch

  • Cake stand (optional, for decorating)

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ASSEMBLE IT

  • Your ice cream should be set inside the ginger graham cracker crust and meringue made to assemble.

  • Take tart out of the freezer, unwrap and set on a cake stand.

  • Using either a large star piping tip or just a spatula, cover the entire top of the ice cream tart with the two-sugar meringue.  Style the meringue with cloudy swirls, a fun piped pattern, or a circular ribbon shape (like in the pictures). I would have done more freeform swirls or piped stars if I were making again.

  • Torch the meringue to your desired darkness with a blowtorch.

  • Slice and serve!

TWEAK IT

  • Infuse your cream with ginger for a lemon ginger ice cream. (If doing this, dial back the amount of ginger in the crust.)

  • Go with 100% brown sugar meringue instead of a 50/50 split.

  • Do a different design on top with your meringue.

  • Spread a thin layer of jam in between your crust and ice cream (blueberry jam would be divine here).

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