Monday, April 27, 2015

Lemon Meringue Tarlets


With the days warming up here in Atlanta and spring finally showing it's pretty little face, I've been dreaming about bright, lemony desserts.
Funny, I impulsively bought a jar of lemon curd recently, thinking it would be a fun, little topper for homemade waffles. After tasting it, I was reminded why lemon curd is always something you ought to make yourself. It packs a much bigger punch and tastes so velvety and much more delicious.
I made these lemon meringue tartlets the other day and they were lovely. My compliments to the creators, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. This recipe is included in their book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking {it's actually the cover recipe!}. I don't have this book yet, but thinking I might need to put it on my list.



I will say this about the recipe. I've never really had a tart crust quite like this. It makes up like a very soft, sticky cookie dough and has to be refrigerated for a few hours before you can use it. Rolling it out is a fragile process. 
In the final dessert, it is incredibly crisp and light. Although I appreciated something a little different, I think I might use a more standard tart crust the next time. I found I wanted something to sink my teeth into a bit more. 
It does make for a truly light dessert and the lemon curd it amazing!
Happy Spring!

Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts 
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Makes eight 4-inch tarts

Tartlet Shells

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely ground blanched almonds
2 Tablespoons finely ground gingersnap cookies
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, softened but still cold
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 Tablespoon heavy cream

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, and ground cookies; set aside.

Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle over confectioners' sugar and toss, using your hands, until butter is fully coated. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until butter and sugar are well combined.
Scrape down sides of bowl, add egg yolk, and continue beating until combined. Reduce speed to medium-low and slowly add the flour mixture; beat until well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and add heavy cream; beat until well combined. Form dough into a large ball using your hands. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 hours.

Lightly flour a work surface. Turn dough out onto floured work surface and cut into 8 pieces. Gently knead each piece of dough into a smooth disc, using a spatula to turn dough, as it will be sticky. Add more flour to work surface if necessary. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough until chilled, about 10 minutes.

Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer each round to a 4-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and gently press into tart pan. Roll a rolling pin over each tart shell, pressing lightly to trim any excess dough; discard.

Place tart pans on a baking sheet and gently prick the bottom of each tart pan with a fork; transfer baking sheet to refrigerator and chill 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake tart shells until golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let cook completely.


Lemon Curd

Ingredients:
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)
Zest of 2 lemons
2 large eggs
7 large egg yolks (reserve whites for topping)
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter


Place lemon juice and zest in a small bowl to soften zest, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a nonreactive heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until well combined. Add lemon juice and zest and continue whisking until just combined.

Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water. Continuously stir mixture with a heatproof spatula until mixture has thickened to a pudding-like texture, about 6 minutes.

Remove bowl from heat and whisk in butter until melted. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Cover lemon curd with a sheet of plastic wrap, pressing plastic wrap onto the surface of the lemon curd to prevent a skin from forming. Place bowl of lemon curd in the refrigerator to chill for a bit.


Meringue

Ingredients:
7 large egg whites, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar {I didn't have any, so I skipped this}


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together egg whites and sugar until combined.
Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water; continue whisking until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture has reached 140 degrees on a instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes. 

Return bowl to electric mixer and beat on high speed until thick, about 3 minutes. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes more. 
 
To assemble:
Preheat broiler, if using.

Remove tart shells from tart pans and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Divide lemon curd evenly between tart shells.


Using a pastry bag fitted with star tip, pipe the meringue on top of lemon curd, dividing equally. Place tarts under broiler until meringue is just browned. Alternatively, use a kitchen torch to brown the tops of each tart.

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