Meringues are usually a light, crunchy and fairly delicate. It’s hard to believe that they can be rolled up into a roulade shape, just like a sponge cake can. Meringue roulades work because the meringue is not overbaked, so that when it comes out of the oven, the meringue is still moist and chewy in the center – and because it stays that way. The softness of the center allows the thin meringue to be rolled up, even though the top and bottom of the sheet of meringue are crisp. It makes a very light dessert that is surprisingly easy to prepare.
The one drawback to a meringue roulade is that the meringue part is very sweet (this is a drawback to a lot of meringue cookies, actually), so you can’t just put any old filling inside. Plain whipped cream works well to balance the sweetness of the meringue if you want to be as basic as possible, but something tart works even better, something like lemon curd. This filling uses a mixture of cream cheese and lemon curd, lightened with whipped cream. I made a filling using items I had on hand, literally, so don’t feel married to the filling suggestion given below. If, for instance, you don’t like cream cheese, just fold some whipped cream into lemon curd and use that as the filling.
All that said, this dessert is fairly sweet because of the meringue (the meringue needs a fair amount of sugar to maintain its nice chewy texture) but the zestiness of the lemon still shines through and it has a great overall flavor, especially if you’re a fan of lemon meringue pie or other sweet lemon desserts. This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a day if you want to make it ahead of time before serving. It’s nice to bring it out after a cookout on a hot summer night.
Lemon Meringue Roulade
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon curd
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 15×17-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and lightly grease, making sure to lightly grease the sides of the pan, too.
In a large bowl, prepare the meringue. Beat the egg whites until frothy, then increase mixer speed to high and gradually beat in the salt and sugar, beating until the mixture reaches soft peaks. Stir in lemon zest.
Spread meringue into prepared pan in a thin, even layer.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until meringue is light gold.
Turn meringue out onto a wire rack lined with a clean dish towel. Peel off parchment paper and let cool completely.
In the meantime, prepare the filling.
Cream together lemon curd and cream cheese until mixture is smooth. Beat whipping cream to soft peaks in a small bowl, then fold into the cream cheese and lemon curd mixture. Add a few tablespoons of confectioners sugar if the filling is too tart for your liking, but keep in mind that the meringue is quite sweet.
Spread onto cooled meringue, leaving a 1/4-inch border on all sides. Using the dish towel to help you handle the meringue, roll it up, starting with a short side. Don’t worry if the meringue cracks slightly during this process.
Transfer to a serving platter and refrigerate until ready to serve.