When the weather starts to warm up I always seem to want to cook with lemons. My favorites are Meyer Lemons. They are sweeter and have a deeper colored flesh than the ones we typically buy in the grocery store. I have a Meyer Lemon tree in my backyard that I baby all winter long by stinging Christmas lights along the branches to keep it warm. My husband built a special wooden brace for the tree which he uses to drape a tarp over when we have temperatures in the low thirties. I realize this may sound like a lot of work for a citrus tree, but the end result is well worth it. Trader Joe's usually carries Meyer Lemons this time of year and if you can find them, by all means use them in this recipe.
I make homemade lemon curd but feel free to buy it at the market if you don't have time to make it. I do recommend making it however, as you will have some left over to accompany scones, ice cream or a piece of toast. Heck, it's great just by the spoonful...not that I eat it by the spoonful or anything.
This dessert is light, delicious and not too sweet. I have served it on Easter and Mother's Day. I think it would be lovely for a baby shower, bridal shower or anytime for that matter.
Lemon Mascarpone desserts with Lemon Curd
Use 1 cup ramekins
8 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
Zest from 3 lemons, finely chopped, approximately 1 heaping tablespoon
½ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice, approximately 3 lemons
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
You will need a 2 quart double boiler or a 2 quart sauce pan and a metal bowl to fit over top of the pan. Fill bottom of double boiler or sauce pan with about 1 inch of water (do not allow water to touch the underside of the top pan of the double boiler or the metal bowl) replace top or metal bowl and move to stove top. Turn heat to medium low. In top of double boiler or metal bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in lemon juice to combine well. Add butter pieces. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture starts to thicken and leaves a trail when you run your finger down the back of the spoon; about 10 minutes. Do not over cook. Strain curd into a medium bowl and stir in the zest. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd. Cool curd to room temperature. Place curd in the refrigerator for at least two hours before using.
Lemon Mascarpone Desserts
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
8 - 1 cup ramekins, bottom and sides lightly buttered
15x11 glass baking pan or; 13x9 baking pan plus a 10 1/2 x 7 baking pan
¾ cup sugar
Zest of three lemons, finely chopped, approximately 1 heaping tablespoon
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, about three lemons
2 - 8oz packages of cream cheese, each cut into 8 pieces, brought to room temperature
1 cup mascarpone cheese
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a large bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed; beat sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add mascarpone cheese; continue beating on medium speed until well combined. Mixture will have small lumps. Add eggs, one at a time, beat well to combine after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until well combined. Mixture will be thick.
Spoon batter into 8 ramekins. Place ramekins in the baking dish or dishes and pour enough hot water into baking dish to come half way up sides of ramekins. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until slightly golden, puffy and set in the center. Remove from oven and let rest in water bath for 5 minutes. Carefully remove hot ramekins from the water bath and place on cooling racks for 15 minutes. Desserts will fall a bit as they cool. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until chilled, approximately 2 hours.
Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon of lemon curd on top of each dessert and smooth with a spoon or off set spatula. Serve.
Here is a price breakdown for the items I purchased at Trader Joes.
Bag of lemons (6) $1.99
Butter (4 cubes) $2.49
Eggs (1 doz) $1.49
Cream Cheese (2 packages) $ 2.98
Mascarpone Cheese (8oz) $3.99
Total cost $12.94
Not bad for an elegant dessert. I still have over three cubes of butter, 4 eggs and some very yummy lemon curd left. Yeah!
Erin Walgamuth  has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe  section.