Written by Tom Brooks, Director of Food & Beverage at The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa

I’ve been around food all my life, and I love coming up with new recipes and interesting combinations of different flavors. But I must admit I don’t often sit around thinking about where certain ingredients originated.

Take the lemon for example. At some point long ago, no one had ever eaten a lemon before. And then someone picked one off a tree and took a bite. (Hopefully they peeled it first, but who knows?) Fortunately for all of us, that person liked the taste, told a friend, and BOOM! All of a sudden, Meringue Pie, Chicken Piccata, and Hollandaise Sauce tasted a lot better.

Okay, it probably didn’t happen that way, but it makes for a great story doesn’t it?

Keeping with this week’s theme of ‘lemons’, here’s my recipe for Frozen Lemon Succés (pronounced sook-SAY). It may seem tricky, but is well worth the effort. And once you’ve mastered the individual components, you’ll have the ability to use them over and over again in dozens of different recipes.

The recipe makes one tall 8” cake or one thin 10” succés. Enjoy!

Almond Praline
2 cups almonds, toasted and peeled
2 cups sugar
3 tbsp. water

On a sheet pan, toast almonds in a 350° degree oven until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Combine sugar with water and melt over medium heat in a sauce pan. When the sugar becomes a liquid and clear, start stirring gently until it turns light brown. Pour the sugar over the almonds on a greased sheet pan, and let cool completely. Pulse in a food processor until fine powder. Set aside.

8 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
8-10” spring form pan

Whisk salt, egg whites, and vanilla in stainless steel bowl. Slowly add sugar until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Fold the praline into the meringue. On a parchment lined sheet pan pipe the meringue in a spiral, starting in the middle and circling around until it’s the size of your spring form pan. You should have enough meringue to make three. Bake in a low-heat (150°) oven for 45 minutes, until the meringue is crispy. Set aside and let cool.

Lemon Curd Mousse
6 eggs
6 egg yolks
1½ cups sugar
18 tbsp. lemon juice
3 lemons, zested
3 sticks (12 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups heavy cream

Using a whisk, combine all ingredients except butter in a heavy saucepan. Add butter. Stir constantly over low heat until curd thickens (do not boil!). Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and cool with the plastic touching the curd. In a bowl, whip the heavy cream into soft peaks and fold into curd mixture when the mixture is cooled. (Note: This makes an excellent spread for scones or a filling between layers of cake.)

Assembly: Frozen Lemon Succés
Line the bottom of the spring form pan with parchment paper. Place one of the meringues on the bottom and cover with one-third of the lemon curd mousse. Alternate layers until you reach the top of your pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. Cut into wedges and serve with any fruit purée sauce.