Lemon Meringue Tartlets

What got me baking these tartlets?

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One fine day, da man and I checked out a cafe and I thought I should try their famed passionfruit meringue tartlets. After one bite, I found myself unimpressed -the pastry was hard and for the price I paid, I could have a better experience than that. So, I decided to bake the tarts myself.

Commonly, the crusts of tarts are made from pate brisee, pate sucree and pate sablee. However, my kitchen is really warm and I decided to use the graham crackers crust from Miette whose recipes I love. For the lemon curd, I prefer the lighter version and opted for Dorie Greenspan’s. After topping it up with Italian Meringue and torching it, I was truly satisfied. You would have to allow the different parts of the tartlets time to bind the flavours together in order to get its true taste.

A lot of work, yes. But it’s all worth it.

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For Graham Crackers Base
[Adapted from Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop]

100g all-purpose flour
20g wholemeal flour
¼ tsp salt
A scant (⅛ tsp) ground cinnamon
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
55g light brown sugar
1 tbsp honey

1. Sift together both flours, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a standmixer (fitted with paddle attachment), combine the butter, brown sugar and honey and beat until fluffy.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, beating just until combined after each addition. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap/ clingwrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling, or up to 2 days.

Preparation for blind-baking:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Divide the dough to make the portions you IMG_6718need and pat gently into disks. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each dough disk into a round about 2mm thick and about 1 inch greater in diameter than the pan you are using. Drape the roller-out dough into the tart pan(s), gently pushing it into the bottom edges and against the pan sides to make a strong and straight shell. Trim the edges and against the pan sides. Prick all over the bottom with the tines of a fork and place in the freezer to form up for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 C.

To fully blind-bake the shell, line the shells with parchment paper and weight with dried rice, dried beans or pie weights. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.

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Lemon curd
[Source: Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table]

1 ¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
about ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4-5 lemons)
112g unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (off-heat), whisk the sugar and the eggs together until blended. Whisk in the corn syrup and lemon juice and then drop in the chunks of butter.

2. Put the saucepan over medium heat and start whisking, taking care to work the whisk into the edges of the pan. If your whisk is too big to clean the edges of the pan, switch to a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula. Keep heating and whisking the mixture without stop. After about 6 to 8 minutes, you’ll notice the curd starting to thicken- it won’t be very thick, but the change is easily perceptible. When the curd is thickened, and most important, you see a bubble or two burble to the surface and then pop immediately, remove the pan from the heat.

3. Scrape the curd into a heatproof bowl or a canning jar or two. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal, and let the curd cool to room temperature (it will thicken slightly as it cools). Chill before serving. The curd will keep up to three weeks, refrigerated.

Italian meringue
[Makes about 4 cups]

1 ½ cups caster sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
¼ cup water
3 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a small saucepan. Stir the sugar to dissolve and begin to heat it over medium-low. Have a heatproof measuring cup sitting nearby.

2. Put the egg whites and vanilla in a standmixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the sugar syrup reaches 115C, immediately pour it into the measuring cup to prevent it from getting hotter. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, aiming for the side of the bowl rather than the whisk. When all the syrup is added, turn the mixer to medium high and whisk until the icing becomes thick and holds a firm peak, about 10 minutes in total. Do not continue to beat or the icing will become too thick to spread and pipe.

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This week in pics

Monday, there was fellowship lunch with the ladies from BSF. I was truly encouraged by their heartfelt sharing about their lives and how God is working in their situations. Praise be to the Lord!

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Tuesday, da man took leave and spent the day with moi and child! Thank God for that! I love it when I have help and even more when we could spend time as a family. So, we decided to check out Gymboree but decided against it as the location is far from ours. Visited Kki at last and had my fill of their oh-so-lovely cakes!

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Wednesday, went to purchase ingredients before the baking class on Friday. The more I bake, the more things I learn. And there is yet so much stuff out here that I do not know! Feeling overwhelmed! Here was lunch, unagi rice burger served in such a manner. Bad idea ‘cos it got messy!

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Thursday, I finally got to meet my mom’s cousin who is a homebaker for more than 30 years. I felt a tad intimidated by her, this baking giant. She was making mooncakes and served us some. Though she has baked for so long, testing and revising recipes over the years, she still wants to learn and asked me to to go for baking classes with her if there are good ones available. Woohoo!

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Friday, I conducted a baking lesson for 20 people. It turned out…messy! Okay, I’m not used to teaching so many people and to complete 3 recipes in 3 hours is a challenge. On my own, it is definitely achievable but for those who are new to baking, it could be a challenge. So the lesson dragged on and I felt bad for the participants. Lesson learnt: Must insist on the number of recipes that I think is achievable for them. It was tiring but highly rewarding, in my opinion, because I love doing such things. When you see the happy faces, your exhaustion vanishes. But now, I need a break. :p Oh! And with this, I have completed one of the to-do list in my 30 stuff!

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The end of it all and more to come!