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Put a Twist of Lemon in Desserts : Trends: Lemon-flavored desserts are making a slow-but-sure comeback.

February 01, 1990|ROSE DOSTI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The rumbling sound of the street vendor's lemon ice cart as he meandered down the cobbled streets of the Lower East Side when I was growing up still rings in my ear.

"ICE," he'd call, letting the "ai" trail and overtake the "s" sound so all you heard was "Ai-i-i-i."

A popular seller in those days was lemon ice. Crisp, clear, refreshing, pale as the moon, a color so lovely it has been permanently imprinted in my mind.

Lemon-flavored desserts were, indeed, a favorite in those days, just as chocolate is today. And because the world moved more slowly back then, lemon-flavored desserts lasted for a long time, well into the '50s, when Lemon Chiffon Pie, lemon ice box cake and lemon meringue pie were the kings of the desserts. On the East Coast, two-crust lemon pie found in bakeries made its mark until it virtually disappeared from the scene a decade ago.

Lemon flavor is coming back, slowly but surely, if we are to measure the voices in the air and in our own Times' mailbag.

So we dug out the past from our recipe files and found lemon-flavored desserts just as they had been long ago.

LEMON CHIFFON PIE

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 cup sugar

Lemon juice

Water

1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk

Few drops yellow food color, optional

1 (9-inch) crumb crust

Combine gelatin and sugar in small saucepan. Add 2/3 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup water. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, 5 minutes or until gelatin and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup cold water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and nonfat dry milk in small mixer bowl. Beat at high speed on electric mixer about 6 minutes, or until stiff.

Pour dissolved gelatin into deep mixing bowl and stir in few drops of food color. Place bowl over ice water and stir until mixture is cooled and syrupy.

Remove bowl from ice water and beat mixture until very foamy. Fold whipped nonfat dry milk into beaten gelatin and turn into crumb crust. Chill until set, about 2 to 3 hours. Garnish with lemon peel rose and slices of lemon, if desired. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.

LEMON SHERBET

1 (13-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Yellow food color, optional

Combine evaporated milk, sugar and salt. Gradually stir in lemon juice and zest. Tint very pale yellow with food color, if desired.

Turn into freezer tray and freeze until firm. Turn into chilled bowl and beat with rotary beater until smooth and fluffy.

Return to freezing tray and freeze until firm, stirring once after sherbet becomes mushy. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

HOT LEMON SOUFFLE

Butter

Sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, separated

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Butter sides of 1 1/2-quart souffle dish and sprinkle with sugar. Make 4-inch band of triple-thickness foil. Lightly butter 1 side of band and sprinkle with sugar. Wrap around outside of dish with sugared side in. Fasten with paper clip or string. Collar should extend 2 inches above rim of dish. Set aside.

Beat together 1/3 cup sugar, lemon zest and juice and salt in medium saucepan until well blended. Add 1/3 cup butter. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat, until mixture boils. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Beat egg yolks in small mixing bowl at high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Blend small amount hot mixture into yolks, then stir yolk mixture back into lemon mixture.

Wash and dry beaters. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large mixing bowl at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently but thoroughly fold yolk mixture into whites. Carefully place in prepared souffle dish.

Bake at 350 degrees until puffy, lightly browned and souffle shakes slightly when oven rack is gently moved, about 25 to 30 minutes. Carefully remove foil band and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Half cup raisins may be folded into mixture before pouring into souffle dish to bake.

LEMON SUGAR COOKIES

1 cup butter

Sugar

2/3 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

3 eggs, beaten

3 2/3 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream butter and 2 cups sugar with soda, salt, lemon juice and zest. Add beaten eggs and beat until smooth. Sift together flour and baking powder and add to creamed mixture, mixing until smooth.

Chill dough until firm enough to roll out onto floured pastry cloth. Sprinkle with additional sugar and cut into fancy cookie shapes with cookie cutters.

Place on greased baking sheets and bake at 450 degrees 8 minutes, or until cookies are golden. Makes 10 dozen medium-size cookies.

BULLOCK'S HEAVENLY LEMON PIE

3 egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Lemon Filling

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until sugar is dissolved. Continue beating while adding remaining 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice alternately until both are used.

Turn meringue into well-buttered 9-inch pie plate. Form shell by pushing mixture high at edges with spoon. Bake at 200 degrees 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Cool and fill with Lemon Filling. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.

Lemon Filling

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 cups whipping cream

Combine egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest in top of double boiler. Cook, stirring, over hot water until thick. Cool.

Whip cream and fold 1/2 into filling, then turn filling into shell. Chill pie, then top with remaining whipped cream.

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