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  • Writer's pictureChef Eric

Lemon Custard with Strawberry Preserves and Coconut Crisp

Finishing this dessert with flaky fleur de sel not only balances the sugar in this sweet-tart custard, but it adds a crunchy texture to the topping. A touch of salt brings forth the fruit in the custard and preserves. EXPERIENCE LEVEL: @ YIELD: 6–8 SERVINGS  LEMON CURD 5 egg yolks 1 cup sugar Juice and zest of 4 lemons 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pats and chilled Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1 inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice; if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to the egg mixture and whisk smooth. When water reaches a simmer, reduce the heat to low and place the metal bowl on top of the saucepan. Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until the mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove promptly from heat and stir in the butter, one piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd.

CHEF’S NOTES: Preserves can be made one week ahead. Crisps can be made three days in advance if kept in an airtight container.

STRAWBERRY PRESERVES Juice of 2 lemons, strained 41⁄2 cups sugar 2 pints ripe fresh strawberries In a large, deep skillet, pour the lemon juice on the sugar. Gently stir the sugar until completely melted. Cook undisturbed over moderate heat, about 10 minutes. Using a moistened pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals from the side of the skillet. Add the strawberries and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, mashing them gently, until the preserves reach 220°F (or 8°F above boiling point, depending on altitude), about 10 minutes. Continue to boil until the preserves are thick, 4 minutes longer. Spoon the preserves into three hot 1-pint canning jars, leaving 1⁄4 inch of headspace at the top, and close with the lids and rings. To process, boil the jars for 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

BEST SEASON: This dessert is great for any time of the year. It can even be used as an afternoon snack when entertaining.

COCONUT CRISP 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 1⁄2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (reserve 1⁄2 cup for garnish) 2 large eggs 2⁄3 cup sugar 1 1⁄2 teaspoons fleur de sel for sprinkling 2 strawberries, sliced, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and add 2 cups coconut. Mix well so the coconut is well coated with the butter.

Beat the eggs with a mixer on medium speed just until blended. Add the sugar and beat on medium- high until the mixture is light colored and fluffy. Combine the butter-covered coconut gently with the egg mixture and mix well. Drop the batter onto the parchment-covered baking sheets and press down gently on each mound until it is relatively flat; a teaspoon of batter works well, but you can make them smaller or larger, adjusting the baking time accordingly. Keep about 1 inch of space between each cookie, more if you aren’t flattening them.

Bake 7–10 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the top of each cookie with a pinch of fleur de sel. If the cookies sit and cool too much, the fleur de sel won’t stick; you could apply the salt before baking, but since it dissolves so quickly, you will lose the visual effect of the beautiful crystals and the pleasant crunch when you bite into one. Slide the entire sheet of parchment with the cookies intact onto a wire cooling rack.

As soon as they are cool, put them in an airtight container to maintain their crispness.

ASSEMBLY: Layer two of the crisps with 1 teaspoon lemon curd, top with 1 teaspoon of strawberry preserves, and stack. Garnish with reserved coconut and a slice of a fresh strawberry, if desired. 

VARIATIONS: Use other berries, such as blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries.

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