Friday, December 25, 2009

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

What to do when friends unload the bounty of their harvest of Meyer lemons on you? Make lemon curd. Lemon cakes. Lemon puddings. Lemon mousse. Meyer lemon ice cream. Lemons with coconut and kaffir lime leaves. Do what you will, but don't let this resource go to waste. Meyers lemon are sweeter than regular lemons, so you should adjust the sugar in your recipes if using them in place of the more common Eureka lemons. Apparently, their thin skins make them commercially unviable for large scale production, so you need to look for them at farmers markets or in the yards of good friends.

These tartlets are relatively easy to make and are convenient for serving large groups. I've made them for teacher workshops as well as family gatherings. People can serve themselves and there's no messing with cutting slices ("I'd like to try just a tiny sliver--a little smaller, ah, ah, ok."). For those who want just a bite, one is plenty. For the average appetite, two or three will do. The tartness of the curd is a refreshing contrast to the slight sweetness of the crust and meringue. This recipe comes from Epicurious and can be found here.

You will need a half recipe of the tartlet shells, which you can find here. One nice thing about this recipe is that the dough for the shells uses the three egg yolks you will have from making the meringue. I find it easier to roll out the dough and use a biscuit cutter to make rounds to press into the mini muffin tins rather than pressing balls of dough into the tins. Careful when blind baking the shells that you don't brown them too much. I recommend checking them after 9 minutes.

For lemon curd

* 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
* 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
* 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 3 large eggs

Cut butter into pieces and in a heavy saucepan cook with zest, lemon juice, and sugar over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and mixture just comes to a simmer. In a bowl whisk together eggs and whisk in lemon mixture until combined well. Transfer lemon curd to pan and heat over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until it just begins to simmer. Pour lemon curd through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool slightly. Chill lemon curd, its surface covered with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours, or until cold, and up to 3 days.

Fill tartlet shells in baking cups with lemon curd. Chill tartlets, covered, 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

For meringue

* 3 large egg whites
* 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 3/4 cup sugar

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat whites with a pinch salt until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat whites until they hold soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, beating until meringue holds stiff peaks.

I simply spooned the meringue on top of the tartlets. If you want to do a more elegant presentation, transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip and pipe meringue 2 inches high onto each tartlet, completely covering lemon curd.

Bake tartlets in middle of oven 3 minutes, or until meringue tips are just browned, and cool in cups on racks. Chill tartlets in airtight containers at least 2 hours, or until cold, and up to 1 day. Keep tartlets chilled until ready to serve.

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  1. You've been baking up a storm, Mr. Javaholic! Everything looks terrific, especially the salmon terrine! Mmm! I wish I lived nearby so that I could swipe some of you leftovers.

  2. Yeah, I have been busy baking. It's time to get back to more tropical flavors. I'm a little tired of all these desserts.


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