Blackberry curd is, in my opinion, something of a revelation. I’m not knocking its classic lemon counterpart, but this just feels a little bit more special. These bars are just luscious and the perfect treat to have on hand for afternoon tea; absolutely delicious and oh so pretty! You may want to start them the day before, so your curd has time to set.
Blackberry curd meringue bars with lemon and white pepper shortbread
Makes 12 slices
265g frozen blackberries
Zest of 2 lemons
60g lemon juice
190g caster sugar
3 large eggs
85g butter, softened
1 Tbsp cornflour
Lemon white pepper shortbread
160g plain flour
50g caster sugar
25g icing sugar
¼ tsp ground white pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
140g unsalted butter, cold and diced
3 Tbsp raspberry powder
140g caster sugar
3 large egg whites
Pinch fine sea salt
1. For the curd: Place the frozen blackberries, the zest and the lemon juice in a small pot. Cook on low to medium heat until the blackberries soften and burst and it’s mostly liquid; this should take about 6-8 minutes.
2. Set a sieve over a small bowl and press the blackberry mix through to remove the seeds and zest, scraping the bottom of the sieve. You should have ¾ cup blackberry lemon juice. Discard the seeds.
3. Return the juice to the pot and add the sugar and stir. The mix should have cooled quite a bit by now (if it’s hot, give it a couple of minutes before adding the eggs as scrambled eggs are not what we are after here). Whisk in the eggs and cornflour then return the pot to the stove, cooking at medium heat and whisking until the curd is thick at the bottom and covers the back of a rubber spatula.
4. Stir through the butter, mixing until fully melted and the curd is lovely and glossy. Pour your curd into a shallow dish and set in the fridge to cool and set. If time is short, I sometimes pop it into the freezer, which works well in a hurry.
5. For the shortbread: Preheat your oven to 170C fan bake and grease and line a 20cm x 20cm square baking tin. Add all your ingredients to your food processor and pulse until a soft dough comes together. Sprinkle this mixture over the base of your tin and press firmly (I use the base of a cup to smooth it out here so you get a perfectly even layer).
6. Bake for 20 minutes until golden, remove from the oven, pour over your curd and bake for a further 12-15 minutes; we want the sides set and a slight sexy wobble in the centre. Let cool to room temperature on the bench before popping in the fridge for 3-4 hours, or overnight.
7. For the meringue: Pour your water into a jar and add the raspberry powder. Seal the jar and give it a good shake; we are wanting the powder to dissolve a bit here, so put some elbow grease into the shaking. Pour through a fine sieve, measuring out 80ml into a small pot. Add the sugar and set over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes until starting to thicken.
8. Add the egg whites to the bowl of your stand mixer and start whisking on low to medium speed until they become frothy. With the mixer still running, carefully pour in your hot sugar syrup, add your salt, and whisk on high until glossy and thick.
9. Spread the meringue over your curd with a palette knife, swapping the mixture so you get some lovely swirls and texture. Right before serving, cut into bars using a hot sharp knife and lightly toast the meringue using a blow torch. You can also pop them under the grill for a minute or two if you don’t have a torch. Dive on in!
Petra Galler is a self-taught pastry chef and cookbook author. She is a strong believer in bold baking, using different flavours and texture. Her delicious, bespoke creations are available to view and purchase on Instagram @butterbutternz.