Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nanny's Frozen Lemon "Cake"



This sweet is a real treat, y'all.

This recipe comes from my Nanny - my mom's mom. Mom says that her best memories of this "cake" come from her childhood. Nanny and Poppy would have a few other couples over for cocktails and a light late supper, while everyone's kids were already in bed at home with sitters.

Nanny would make this Frozen Lemon Cake for dessert. She made it in those old-fashioned ice cube trays, with the cube insert taken out. She would slice it up and serve it to her guests late at night. Then the next morning, my mom and her sisters would wake up, hoping against hope that a little corner might be leftover for them. Of course, there usually was . . . I like to think that Nanny sliced it that way on purpose.

This frozen treat is light, fluffy, creamy, and it melts in your mouth just perfectly. It's just sweet enough, with a wondurfully cool and refreshing lemon flavor. It's like a little taste of the clouds that angels sit on in heaven.

Frozen Lemon Cake
adapted from Nanny's recipe

1 cup crushed graham crackers, divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs, separated
1 lemon (all juice and all zest)
½ cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
4 tablespoons sugar, divided

Combine 3/4 cup of the crushed graham crackers with the melted butter, stirring until a crumbly loose mixture forms. Line the bottom of an 8x8-inch pan with the mixture.

In a bowl set over hot water (not boiling) mix egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar.Stir constantly until the mixture thickens. At this point Nanny's instructions say "Keep cool." - this is because it will take about 10 minutes for the mixture to thicken. Cute. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Beat egg whites until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until glossy, stiff peaks form. Next, beat whipped cream until fluffy, and gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar. Then, gently fold all three mixtures together.

Spread the mixture in the pan over the prepared crust. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of crushed crackers. Place in freezer for at least 3 hours. When you're ready to serve, remove from the freezer, and cut into squares and plate them. Then allow to melt ever so slightly - about 4-5 minutes. Serve immediately.

28 comments:

Trish said...

Oh yum. I'm making this cake this weekend. It's the perfect back-to-school celebration dinner dessert.

The Diva on a Diet said...

What a beautiful post. I love both the story behind it and the recipe for this summery delight. It looks delicious!

Nicole said...

This looks incredible! Can you define "Beat eggs....?" Do I do this with a fork? Stand mixer? Hand mixer? Whisk?

Could I make it with a lime?!

And...I mentioned you on my latest blog. Hope that is okay!

Ellie said...

Hey, Nicole!

The beating of the eggs is best done with any kind of electric mixer - but you CAN do it by hand with a whisk, as my hubby says he used to do for his granny when she was making a meringue . . .

You could totally make this with lime. I was JUST having another piece and thinking about how great it would be with orange, when I got your comment.

Thanks for the mention on your blog - you are the sweetest!!

the happy couple said...

looks refreshing for these hot august nights!

Jas. said...

This dessert sounds wonderful and hearing where it came from makes it even better. (I'm sure she cut it like that on purpose too!)

The Consummate Hostess said...

Yum! I need to make this, I love all things lemon-y. Thanks for sharing!

Cate said...

Ohh I love this! I got a similar recipe as part of a recipe exchange but it used evaporated milk and lemon jello (and actually turned out way better than I expected!)
I'd love to be able to make it without the processed ingredients, so this looks perfect!

Tammy said...

This sounds dreamy. I love the idea of changing around the different citrus flavors, but lemon would always be my favorite. Bookmarking this one!

BMK said...

This looks terrific. I love food that brings back great memories.

Rachel said...

I love, love, love this cake!

My Granny made it, too. YUM! Thanks for the reminder about this fantastically amazing treat!

CAC muffin said...

oh man that sounds so yummy i can't wait to try it out!

Big boys Oven said...

the lemon chessecake looks cool!i can feel the tangyness too! :)

Chef Jeena said...

Wonderful it is such a sweet treat.

MrsSouthernBelle said...

This sounds fantabulous! Im a sucker for anything lemon!

Jessica Segarra said...

I love the story behind this! I can not wait to try this though, since I LOVE lemon desserts and I think this one looks fabulous!

Jillian said...

yum-yum! I love anything lemoney. The 2nd picture reminds me of an ice cream bar I got as a child. It looks great and very tasty!

Wesley Anderson said...

This looks super delicious!!

oneparticularkitchen said...

Hey I hit the "stumble" button and I found you! How fabulous! :)

unMuse said...

I happened to stumble on you yesterday and decided to make the "cake" today as I already had everything I needed. It's not done freezing yet, but I'll admit I'm a little worried. The egg yolk mixture never got "thick", but only slightly less runny. I had it over very hot, but not boiling, water for about 10-15 minutes, without much change in consistency. It smells really good, though.

Ellie said...

unMuse -

This is where the "keep cool" instruction from Nanny comes into play. :-) The mixture will not thicken the way that one would if it had cornstarch in it - this is just a custard-type mixture, so it will be a bit more runny than pudding, for example.

Let me know how it turned out! Hope you enjoy it!

-Ellie

Sharyn said...

Wow, I stumbled upon you as well.

This sounds fabulous, thanks for sharing it.

Sharyn
Australia

purplegirl said...

Wow, that sounds tasty!

Jennifer said...

Oh wow! You have NO idea how glad I am that I stumbled upon this. It looks really yummy, I think I'll make it for my mom tomorrow ;) I have a question about the heat when you're making the custard. How hot is hot enough? So that it's simmering a little?

Joelen said...

This looks delicious and so refreshing!

Maybe Phoebe said...

Oh hey surprise surprise! I stumbled upon you too :s

My sister's returning from London tomorrow, so I made this today! The batter..or..white stuff on top of the cake.. tastes really good! I tried it before freezing it :D So looking forward to eating the finished product!

Anyhow, I was a little concerned about the egg yolks bit of the recipe. Does the hot water cook away the germs in the yolk? I noticed that there's no baking involved, so I was a little worried about the germs. I am, after all, living in Germ Haven Tropical Singapore :s

Ellie said...

Hi, Maybe Phoebe! Glad you stumbled upon me!

The egg yolks definitely reach high enough temperature to kill off any bacteria when you put them over the double boiler and stir until they thicken. The water below is at a bare simmer, and it does heat up the egg yolk mixture quite a bit.

Hope this helps!

-Ellie

Kat and Raul in MD said...

This was a fantastic treat. This is how we got turned onto your site. I've made it a part of my google home page - not sure how I discovered it - but my husband is glad too! I can't wait to make this for friends...

 

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