Shhhh…yes, another one, and don’t give me any flack about it. I love my little ancient lemon tree and it loves me back. It’s my own personal “Giving Tree” providing me with luscious, sweet, Meyer lemons almost year round. Of the 22 desserts in my “Dessert” category, 6 are made with Meyer lemons, but only 9 of the 150+ recipes on the blog are tagged with “lemon.” And what’s not to love about lemons? The flavor is bright, fresh and clean so how can you go wrong incorporating it where ever possible? In summer we drink lemonade, so why not make a light lemon dessert?
This is the perfect do-ahead dinner party dessert. You can make them up to the day before and then just invert them onto plates (or eat them right out of the ramekins!) right before serving.
In a large baking or roasting pan place 11 ea. 6 oz ramekins.
For the Caramel
Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise to open it up. Put it in a small pot with 2 cups of the milk. Heat the milk to just below a simmer and then turn it off. The goal is to infuse the milk with the vanilla and soften the bean. Allow to cool to room temperature, 10-15 minutes.
To make the caramel, cook the sugar, water and lemon juice (part 2 of the ingredients list) in a small, heavy bottomed pot until the sugar melts and begins to turn a golden brown (about 5 minutes). Quickly remove from the heat and pour enough of the hot sugar (be careful!) into each ramekin to coat the bottom by about 1/8". As it cools, the sugar will harden.
For the Lemon Creme:
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, the remaining 2 cups of milk, and the sugar and salt together. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Remove the vanilla beans from the warm milk, and carefully scrape out the (now softened) beans from the inside of the pod. Whisk this into the egg mixture and then add in the rest of the milk. Pour equal amounts into the ramekins.
Water bath: Add warm water to the pan with the ramekins, filling it to at least 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the creme caramel is firm and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove the ramekins from the water and cool on a rack. To serve, loosen the edges with a knife and invert onto a plate. Garnish with candied lemon peel.
How to Make Candied Lemon Peel
Bring sugar and water to a low simmer in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the peel. Cook for about 30 minutes. Remove the peel from the syrup and drain on a wire rack. When cool, toss in sugar to coat and allow to dry.
Note; the syrup leftover from the cooking the peel makes excellent lemonade when combined with lemon juice and water.