Delicious Bites: Lemon Meringue Tarts
Hi everyone, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites column. A few weeks ago a friend invited me over for a family dinner. We have a standing agreement — she provides the main course while I bring along the dessert. One of the family members has loads of likes and dislikes when it comes to food, which means dessert has to be either lemon flavoured or made from apples, or it won’t be eaten. I don’t like bringing the same dessert twice and as I’ve already brought along a classic lemon tart, a lemon drizzle cake and lemon squares, so I needed to come up with something new.
I looked through my fridge and saw the pot of lemon curd leftover from last month’s brown sugar meringues. I don’t like wasting food so I started thinking of ways to use the leftover curd and decided to make lemon meringue tarts. I made 4 lemon meringue tarts with the leftover curd and they were such a hit, even with the children, that the other dessert I brought along was completely ignored. It’s a bit involved but I thought you might like the recipe.
The tarts themselves aren’t complicated to make, it’s just lemon curd spooned into tart shells topped with a cloud of meringue but the whole process is a bit time consuming. There’s lots of cooling involved so I would make the tart shells and lemon curd the day before you plan to make the tarts and you could always cheat a bit by buying ready made tart shells.
I’m not a fan of uncooked meringue so I baked the lemon meringue tarts in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. n the first batch I made, the high temperature melted the regular lemon curd so I’ve added a little cornflour to the lemon curd filling to stop that happening. If you brulee the meringue with a blow torch instead of baking it, you could leave out the cornflour (cornstarch). I’ve also dialled back the sugar content in the curd as there is plenty of sugar in the meringue topping. The crumb layer idea came from an old Dione Lucas lemon meringue pie recipe I found in one of my cookbooks. You can’t taste the cardamom but it seems to add a depth of flavour.
Here’s my recipe for you.
Lemon Meringue Tarts (makes twelve 8 cm tarts)
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Put to one side.
110 gm (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup almond meal
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients and the lemon rind in a food processor and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and sufficient cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use a large sheet of greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin. Grease twelve 8 cm tartlet tins. Cut out circles of pastry large enough to fit the tart shells. Line the tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Lightly prick the pastry surface with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes. Line the tart shells with muffin liners and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes or until the tart shells are golden.Take the tart shells out of the oven and sprinkle about ½ teaspoon of the breadcrumb mixture over the base of each of the warm tart shells. Place the tart shells on a wire rack to cool. If you want, you can make the tart shells a day ahead and store them in an airtight container.
Lemon curd filling
4 large egg yolks
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
150 ml (2/3 cup) strained lemon juice
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch), optional
120 gm (4 oz) unsalted butter
Place the egg yolks, the lemon rind, juice, cornflour (if using) and sugar into a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Keep whisking for 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the butter in small batches until well combined. Set aside to cool. When completely cool cover the bowl and place the curd in the fridge and allow it to set. The curd will keep for a few weeks in the fridge in a sealed sterilized jar.
4 large egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
Additional caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Fill each tart shell about 2/3 full with the lemon curd. In a large clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until thick and gradually add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat until the sugar dissolves. Using a spoon, decoratively swirl the meringue over the filled tart shells or you can pipe the meringue over the top, sealing the tarts completely with the meringue. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle a little extra caster sugar over the meringue topping.
Bake the tarts in the preheated oven (190°C/375°F) for 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. If you prefer, you can use a brulee torch to colour the meringue. Take the tarts out of the oven and cool the tarts on a wire rack.
Once the tarts have cooled, return them to the fridge for a few hours to allow the filling to firm before serving.
I hope you enjoy the lemon meringue tarts. I’ll be back in June with a summery Delicious Bites treat for you. See you all then – Jillian - and have a lovely Saturday!
(images: jillian lieboff for decor8)