Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lemon Meringue Tart (and a Baby Shower)

Ms L threw a baby shower last week, and isn't the pink theme adorable? Loving the pink pom-poms! I offered to make mini lemon meringue tarts and Hokkaido cupcakes for the shower. I threw in some Gougères (Cheese puffs) as a bonus simply because they were pretty quick and easy to make, and just in case there weren't enough savoury options on the menu.

Ms L bought this cute cupcake stand from the party shop. Pretty isn't it? Might have gone overboard with the pink, but that's the theme!

These flaky puff pastries are spinach and ricotta pastizzis from Costco, which is a great place to shop at if you're planning a big party.
I told Ms L that with less than a month before bubba arrives, she shouldn't be exerting herself too much in the kitchen. Yet, she managed to make a batch of sausage rolls and these delicious sardine puffs (pictured above) which were one of the favourites at the table. She's quite the perfectionist, as you can tell from the neatly pleated pastries.
And what's a party without chips and fresh homemade guacamole? It sure beats the store-bought ones.

Now, back to the lovely meringue tarts. This recipe uses lemon and orange juice for the filling, which balances out the flavour and tartness from the citrus. On hindsight, I should have made the pastry case slightly thicker as they turned out to be a little too delicate and crumbled easily. Otherwise, I think they tasted rather sensational.

Ultimate Lemon Meringue Tart
Adapted from: BBC Good Food

For the pastry (if making Mini Tarts)

  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling

  • 2 level tbsp cornflour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • finely grated zest 2 large lemon
  • 125ml fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
  • juice 1 small orange
  • 85g butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 egg yolks and a 1 whole egg

For the meringue

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 200g golden (or regular) caster sugar
  • 2 level tsp cornflour
  1. For the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar, egg yolk (save the white for the meringue) and 1 tbsp cold water into a food processor. Using the pulse button so the mix is not overworked, process until the mix starts to bind. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather together until smooth, then roll out to 5mm thickness. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out rounds to fit into the base and halfway up the sides of a greased muffin pan. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil, shiny side down, and chill for 1 hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Bake the pastry case for 15 mins, then remove the foil and bake a further 5-8 mins until the pastry is pale golden and cooked. Set aside. (Can be done a day ahead if you want to get ahead.) Lower the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  3. While the pastry bakes, prepare the filling (or you could do this a day ahead and refrigerate the filling. Mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Strain and stir in the lemon juice gradually. Make orange juice up to 200ml/7fl oz with water and strain into the pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted. Beat the egg yolks (save white for meringue) and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon. (It will bubble, but doesn’t curdle.) Take off the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the lemon curd if necessary.
  4. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk to soft peaks, then add half the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking between each addition without overbeating. Whisk in the cornflour, then add the rest of the sugar as before until smooth and thick.
  5. Pour the filling into the pastry cases. Immediately put spoonfuls of meringue around the edge of the filling (if you start in the middle the meringue may sink), then spread so it just touches the pastry (this will anchor it and help stop it sliding). Pile the rest into the centre, spreading so it touches the surface of the hot filling (and starts to cook), then give it all a swirl. Return to the oven for 18-20 mins until the meringue is crisp and slightly coloured. Let the pie sit in the tin for 30 mins, then remove and leave for at least another 1⁄2 hr before serving. Eat the same day.