Zesty lemon butter cookies with Italian meringue

Jun 22, 2021
You'll find it hard to say 'no' to these delightful lemon butter cookies. Source: Getty Images

These cookies are like having little mouthfuls of lemon meringue pie, and I love lemon meringue pie! The base is filled with a homemade lemon curd and topped with a delicious and sweet meringue. Honestly, you’ll find it hard to say ‘No’ to just one of these biscuits.

It’s a bit fiddly, so best to bake these when you have a bit of time, but once done you’ll be sure to save this recipe to your favourites!

Makes 20

Ingredients

FOR THE LEMON CURD

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest plus 1/3 cup juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

FOR THE COOKIES

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

FOR THE MERINGUE

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. For the curd: In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the egg yolks and whisk until combined. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest. Bring the mixture just to a simmer over medium, stirring constantly, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve (use a rubber spatula to help work the curd through). Add the butter to the strained curd and stir to combine. Let the curd cool completely.
  2. For the cookies: Position the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 180C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and lemon zest and beat until well combined. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Scoop dough in 1-tablespoon mounds onto the prepared sheets. Roll in between your palms to make perfect rounds, then roll them in sugar and put them back on the sheets at least 2cm apart. Bake the cookies until just puffed, about 6 minutes. Remove them from the oven and, using a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, make a small well in the centre of each cookie. Rotate the sheets and return them to the oven and bake until set and light golden, about 8 minutes more. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.
  6. Stir the cooled curd to loosen it. Scoop about 1/2 teaspoon of curd into the well in each cookie.
  7. For the meringue: Bring some water to a very low simmer in a small saucepan. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together sugar and egg whites. Set egg whites over the saucepan; make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk mixture until the sugar is melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Rub a bit between your thumb and forefinger to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat mixture on high until stiff glossy peaks form, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine.
  8. Arrange all of the filled cookies on an unlined baking sheet.
  9. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Just off the centre, top each cookie with a meringue swirl.
  10. Use a small kitchen torch to lightly brown each of the meringue tops.

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