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Lemon Pudding Cakes, with Buddha’s Hand Citron

January 10, 2010

Buddha’s Hand fruit “looks like a lemon that was adopted by a family of carrots and forced to grow underground.” That description, posed on chowhound, was the best I’ve heard of this homely, multi-fingered fruit.

I had received a Christmas bottle of Buddha’s Hand Citron from a friend and fellow foodie. She had always wondered what to do with the weird, fragrant fruit, and found the answer at the Hangar One distillery in California. The distillers, who specialize in fruit-infused vodka, promised “more complexity than the standard lemon, with jasmine overtones and hints of fruitcake spices.” Heather promised “happiness in a glass,” and hoped I’d concoct a drink to make the bitter New York winter all better.

Amidst a bitter New York storm I schlepped to Whole Foods to find the fruit itself, nestled like an odd citrus octopus among the meyer lemons. But the association is misleading – there’s no juice, no seeds, only a sweet white pith inside. The value is in the rind – used in Asia to perfume rooms – which gives off an exotic, floral fragrance.

I unearthed a dessert I’d bookmarked months before, from the beautiful blog A Traveller’s Lunchbox. I made the suggested Meyer lemon version first, and oh, it’s good. It’s a soufflé with a split personality – creamy custard below, airy angel’s food on top.

On the second round I swapped in Buddha’s Hand zest and a splash of vodka, which gave a subtle citrus spice to the delicate dessert. Without the overt lemon tang of the first batch, this cake was calmer, a little more… zen.

It was simply sublime.

Lemon Pudding Cakes, with Buddha’s Hand Citron
Adapted originally from Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated Buddha’s Hand zest (or meyer lemon zest)
3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
3 T Meyer lemon juice
3 T Buddha’s Hand Citron vodka
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
8 oz sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Butter a 1-qt. souffle dish, or 6-8 individual ramekins.* Have ready a large baking pan which will accommodate your souffle dish.

In a high-sided bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until light. Add the sugar and zest and beat until combined, with the texture of pebbly sand. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add half the lemon juice and vodka, half the flour and half the sour cream and beat until smooth; repeat with remaining lemon juice, vodka, flour and sour cream.

Beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to medium-high, add the salt, and beat to stiff peaks. Add one-quarter of the whites to the lemon mixture and gently fold in. Continue to fold in whites one-quarter at a time. The whites should be fully incorporated, with no pockets of egg white left.

Transfer it to the prepared souffle dish or ramekins. Place the dishes in the larger pan, set on the oven rack, and carefully pour boiling water half way up the side of the dishes.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until the top is golden brown, the center is just set, and the top springs back when lightly touched. Remove from the water bath.

Serve immediately. Lightly dust with powdered sugar before serving and serve warm, scooping up some of the pudding at the bottom of the dish along with the cake.

* I prefer to make this dessert in individual servings. With shallow dishes, like crème brulee ramekins, you will get a lot of cake and a think layer of pudding. With deeper dishes, you’ll get much more pudding and the tops will puff dramatically like soufflés, and fall just as quickly when they’re removed from the oven. If you don’t plan to serve it the instant it emerges from the oven, I’d aim for dishes no more than 2 inches high.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2010 4:55 am

    Wow wow wow!! Two wonderful photographs. The first two photographs are absolutely amazing. I really like the way you have used the following elements:
    Color – The colors in the first two photographs are amazing. Like the use of just two colors, yellow and white.
    Depth of Field – In the first photograph, the shallow depth-of-field creates an eye-candy impact. Love it.

    Absolutely Beautiful Photographs.

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us.
    - Neel

  2. Susan permalink
    January 11, 2010 6:47 pm

    What bright, cheerful pictures for a cold winter’s day!

  3. January 12, 2010 9:59 pm

    Buddha’s hand lemon? Haha… I had honestly never even heard of them, let alone see them!They look fantastic!

  4. January 22, 2010 10:39 pm

    If you can believe, I have never made a lemon pudding. Not sure why? I think I automatically reach for chocolate when in a pudding mood! So need to bookmark this one – if only to look at your lovely photographs again!

  5. January 28, 2010 5:32 pm

    simply gorgeous. your lemon pudding with the addition of the sour cream sounds like my kind of perfect dessert or sweet treat.

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