If, like me, you are a fan of all things lemon-based, then you will LOVE this.
My mum actually proclaimed it as the best thing I've made to date- big big words from her..! (Although she is my mum and therefore just slightly biased!)
It is, I must admit, lip-smackingly delicious.
A crunchy, chewy shortbread base topped with a squidgy tangy set lemon filling and then adorned with pillowy Italian meringue and raspberry syrup.
The perfect summer combo and a brilliant (if a little messy!) addition to a picnic.
For the biscuit base:
225g salted butter
140g caster sugar
200g plain flour
75g ground almonds
For the lemon filling:
600g caster sugar
Zest of 4 lemons
200-230ml fresh lemon juice (about 5-6 lemons)
150g plain flour
For the Italian meringue:
200g caster sugar
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1tsp vanilla paste
For the raspberry syrup:
1tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla paste
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C (fan.)
To make the shortbread base, add the soft butter and caster sugar to a large mixing bowl. Cream them together with an electric whisk. Add in the flour and ground almonds and use a wooden spoon to combine everything and bring the mixture together into a loose dough.
Butter and line a rectangular traybake tin and then press the dough into the tin in an equal, thin layer. Chill the shortbread layer in the fridge for about 10 minutes and then bake it in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until starting to turn golden brown.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, caster sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and plain flour with an electric whisk in a large mixing bowl until smooth and fully combined. Remove the tin from the oven and carefully pour over the lemon mixture. Return the tin to the oven (ensuring that it is kept level at all times) and bake the lemon mixture for a further 30-40 minutes until just set. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the Italian meringue topping, add the egg whites, caster sugar and cream of tartar to a clean (heatproof) mixing bowl. Whisk to combine all the ingredients. Put a pan of water over a medium-high heat. When the water is simmering, balance the mixing bowl over the saucepan. Continuously whisk the meringue mixture over the heat with a balloon whisk for 5-6 minutes until turns much thicker and silky. The sugar should have all dissolved and the mixture will be more pillowy. It should be warm to the touch or at 120f on a sugar thermometer. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk the mixture with an electric whisk on full speed for another 4-5 minutes until the mixture forms glossy and stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla paste for another minute. You can also find this meringue frosting in my recipe for sweet potato and pecan brownies with a marshmallow frosting.
Once the lemon bars have cooled, turn them out from the tin onto a large board. Using a sharp metal knife, cut the bars until equal squares. Top each square with a generous swirl of the Italian meringue mixture.
To make the raspberry syrup, add the raspberries, lemon juice and vanilla to a small saucepan. Put the pan over a medium heat and leave until it begins to simmer. Simmer the raspberries for about 5-10 minutes until they soften and release their juices and you have a jam-like syrup. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely before spooning over the meringue.