Saturday, February 7, 2015

Meyer Lemon Meringue Tartlets

Back in the day, when I attended a Food Blogger conference, I attended a writing workshop on how to describe the taste(s) and textures of a recipe. That proved to be quite a personal challenge, because the guest speakers asked us to eliminate the use of the words like "awesome", "tasty", "yummy"  and to replace them with alternate words to describe various foods we were asked to taste.


Food Grammar Police Rules be darned!  These tarts are amazing, yummy, fantastic... They are delicious. They are buttery,  lemony, and  creamy. This dessert has earned my personal best in bursting with flavor and is now one of my favorite desserts I've ever made. Seriously.

Recently, I noticed that our Meyer lemon tree, was laden with lots of fruit, and I needed to pick them and use them immediately.  That is never a problem, because Meyer lemons are perfect for baking. They have an exquisite balance of sweet and tart.  I usually make my fool-proof lemon curd recipe, that uses the whole egg.  Then, I got to thinking about making a lemon meringue pie-- which I had not made in many, many years.   That thought process began to morph into an obsession that I was determined to make a lemon meringue pie.
I've posted many recipes for pies, in my recipe index. I usually begin by saying that I'm not the biggest fan of shortening based pie crusts.  (I also know that I'm in the minority here.)  I do, however, prefer a French Pâte Brisée crust, which is all butter and a little bit of sugar-- very similar to a shortbread.  Using a food processor makes this a whole lot easier. With this pâte brisée recipe, I also added lemon zest and a little bit of pure vanilla extract.

I was going to make one large tart, when I remembered that I had recently purchased these cute 4.75 Inch Round Tart/Quiche Pans.   I did roll out the dough, cut individual circles and then pressed them into each pan.  

I docked them, to prevent too much puffing during baking. Then, I placed them into the freezer for about 30 minutes so that I could also reduce the  "shrinkage" of the tart shells, while they baked. 

NOTE: I baked these tart shells one day ahead of making the final dessert.

Now, to make the filling...

The classic lemon meringue pie filling is made with cornstarch, to thicken it.  Since I wanted to use a lemon curd (which is thickened with butter), I had to come up with a different lemon curd recipe that separates the egg yolks from the egg whites.  That way I could reserve the egg whites to make a meringue. (This lemon curd recipe comes from Martha

I've said it many times, and I will continue to say it: "Lemon is my chocolate".  This lemon curd recipe is so delicious (there goes that word again)-- vibrant with the tang of lemon and just the right amount of sweetness.  NOTE: You can make this lemon curd days ahead. Double the recipe, so you can save some in an air-tight container (I use canning jars).  Left in the refrigerator, the lemon curd will keep for weeks.

You should make the lemon curd at least one day ahead, though, so it can chill and thicken.

Because tart pans have a removable bottom, they slipped right out, and nothing stuck. I think that tart crusts looks so fancy, and like they took a lot of work to do.  (That can be your own trade secret.)

An off-set spatula is my go-to tool, for smoothing out the tart filling.

Last, but not least, comes the meringue.  NOTE: If you are not a fan of meringue, you could swap out fresh whipped cream.  Your loss, my gain!  I would suggest making my other lemon curd recipe that uses the whole egg, so you don't have to deal with leftover egg whites (which can easily be frozen for future use).

I didn't photograph how to make a meringue, because it's quite simple.  I use my stand mixer to  whip egg whites with cream of tartar, gradually adding sugar and pure vanilla extract.  Ever since I took a cake decorating class, I overcame my fear/ignorance of how to use a piping bag.  I love how fancy piping looks, but you can always plop the meringue on top and create decorate swirls with an off-set spatula or knife.

I was tickled pink with how pretty these turned out.  (Note to self: erase all self-doubt on my piping skills.)  Now, to do the classic "browning" of the meringue.  I could use a broiler, but I finally invested in a blow torch for making Crème brûlée-- and this was my first time using it.

Well, that was easy-- and fun!

I'm not kidding when I tell you that I was chomping at the bit to sink my teeth into this dessert.

TASTING NOTES:  I truly believe that there is a dance that we bakers do, when we taste something that is exquisite.  I was dancing, twirling and relishing the textures and flavors of this dessert. It was all that I had imagined and more-- the crust was delicate and buttery, with a lovely note of vanilla and sugar.  The lemon curd was tart, but not to the point of making me pucker.  The lemon meringue was creamy, and sweet and sticky, and pulled the whole dessert into one perfect package.  Why in the world would someone say that they don't like meringue? !

I'm truly smitten with this tart, and I will definitely make this one again and again.  I even wrote down how I made the crust to use for other tarts.  Since I try to be honest with all of my readers, I will admit that I ate two... okay, three of these tarts.  Yes, I ate half of the total batch over a period of 2 days.

Know what? I don't feel any guilt nor regrets.  Neither will you. 

These tarts are not only a perfect dessert to make for someone special (pssssssst, Valentine's Day is just around the corner), but they are also pretty and the camera just loves them. Can you tell?

Here's the printable recipe card.  I hope that you try making this recipe.  You won't be sorry that you did. Oh! It's important that I give credit to Martha  for the Pâte Brisée crust, and lemon curd recipe.

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Kate said...

What beautiful tartlets! Aren't Meyer lemons wonderful? We have a tree that produces many each year....Terry loves lemon meringue pie...he would really like these!

Teodora @TeoBucatar said...

WOW it looks so delicious and yummy! Love your pictures!

Joanne said...

I think we are thinking of the same conference! :) Lemon meringue always sounds good to me...especially when the lemons in question are Meyers!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I haven't been to your site for a while and I have missed a lot including these tarts. My but do they look fabulous. I can't wait for an excuse to make these.

James Alton Thomas said...

So delicious. I agree, nothing better than lemon. Just made this curd and it is so velvety smooth, with such a great flavor. Mine may be just a bit too salty, as I was out of unsalted, and just needed to make some curd. Will use this recipe again and again. Love me some Lemon Meringue! I have enjoyed each of the recipes I have embarked on. Thank you!

Debby Foodiewife said...

That makes me really happy, James. I love lemon curd. Period!