April 18, 2011

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

We finally figured out the gas problem with the oven(too many damn pilot lights) so that means back to cooking! Though I must say it's been hard to find inspiration to cook since I'm all about trying the hundreds of restaurants in our new hood. We've found our new favorite Thai and Indian restaurants, sandwich shop, and hole-in-the-wall breakfast joint already. Next on the list to find are Vietnamese(our first try didn't meet my Sunset-high standards), Italian, and a decent coffee shop(there are too many to choose from!). 
Although we had some awesome breakfasts this past weekend, the Kiwi found his cravings for Vegemite too strong for him to handle. So we set out to World Market in hopes of finding some there. He ended up settling for Marmite since they were fresh out of the good stuff and I picked up a few mini tart pans for $1.50 each. Score. Here's one of many soon to come tartlet recipes coming from my kitchen.

The crust is more of a shortbread type rather than pie crust. It's crispy on the outside yet dense and chewy(almost like a cookie) on the inside. I didn't have any cream of tartar for the meringue(because who uses this stuff regularly?) so I opted for a little lemon juice to help with the acid balance. They turned out better than expected so I hope you enjoy them too!

Lemon Meringue Tartlets (makes 2-3 mini tarts)
For the crust:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar(confectioners)
1/4 cup(1/2 stick) cold butter, cubed
pinch of salt
cold water by the teaspoon

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the pieces of butter are about the size of half a pea. If it's not coming together add cold water by the teaspoon until it forms a loose dough(All of this can be done by hand...some of us don't have the luxury of a food processor ahem, like me). Pour out onto a clean counter and pull the dough together into a disk. Cover in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Once the dough is chilled, divide it into 3 equal parts among your mini tart pans. Press the dough up the sides forming a thin even layer less than a quarter inch thick(you can roll it if you want then place it in your pans). Put them back in the freezer for another 5-10 minutes then onto a cookie sheet. Prick the bottom a few times so the steam can escape. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
If your crust bubbles a little(mine did, the little buggers) just use the bottom of a cup to flatten the bottom when they're still warm. Allow to cool completely before putting the lemon curd in them.
For the lemon curd:
I decided to go with a different recipe than before. I liked the taste and texture a bit more with this one. It's definitely lighter than David Lebovitz's recipe too. Here's the link.

For the meringue:
1 large egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

With a hand mixer in a medium bowl, beat your egg yolk until frothy. Throw in your lemon juice and slowly sprinkle in your sugar. Beat on high until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny. Taste to see if you want more sugar.

Once both your tart shell and lemon curd are cooled, pop out your shells from their pans and fill with curd until nearly to the top. Place your meringue into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe your meringue in any pretty design you want. I liked the individual star approach because you get more burnt crispy tips after broiling...but anything works. Turn on your broiler and pop your tarts in for just a minute, I suggest watching them because they'll burn VERY quickly. Once browned, they're ready to serve.