The occasion was my Theta sorority alumni book club, the book was “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake“, and the food theme was anything LEMON! I actually belong to 2 book clubs since living in the city. One I started with my girlfriends from college which has since turned into a Saturday night potluck dinner/drinking/going out on the town club. I am almost positive I am the only one that has read every single book. My Theta book club is a whole different story…girls come with the book and we actually have discussion questions. Both groups are titled “book club”, both are very enjoyable, and both couldn’t be more opposite.
And since we were reading a book with food in the title, the food theme had to be lemon. I don’t particularly love lemon dishes or desserts, but I am always up for a challenge. Since you all know I am on a cupcake kick, Martha introduced me to Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. I had no way of knowing what Martha had in store for me. From the buttermilk lemon cupcakes, to lemon curd, to meringue, to torching…I was beat by the end of it.
My advice is to take this in stages. Make the cupcakes one day, the lemon curd the next, and the frosting the day you want to frost them. The meringue doesn’t stay well like other frosting, so you have to use it right away. Also, the meringue calls for a candy thermometer. Nope, don’t have one of those! What to do? Google it. Google told me that in order to know your sugary syrup is 230 degrees, you can drop the liquid in cold water and it turns to thread. I did just that and the meringue turned out great! Always a quick fix, you just gotta do some research.
Don’t forget the torching! I don’t have a kitchen torch (another kitchen tool Martha just assumes everyone has!) so I used my candle lighter and held it close enough just to get a little browning. It added a nice touch that was worth the extra effort.
Book club was lots of fun as usual. Girls brought everything from lemon poppy seed pancakes to lemon lime ceviche to lemon chicken. I also heated up some crab cakes from Trader’s and served them with Lemon Aioli from Food Network. We all agreed the book was plain old weird and probably wouldn’t recommend it. One of the English majors said that it is categorized as a “magical realism” book, so if you are into that, read away. I even have an extra copy for you that someone forgot at my apartment.
The recipe was huge, so I took half of them and made them into my 4th of July treat. Every year I make some dessert look like an American flag, and this year it is lemon meringue cupcakes.
Happy Fourth of July everyone!
…and since I wrote all about this bad book, I’ll leave you with some summer must reads: