Raspberry passion fruit tartletes with torched meringue

This is what I chose to bake for my second class on Meringue, basically because it is the only recipe that used Italian Meringue and I wanted to give it a try. It wouldn’t be daunting as long as I’m under guidance, would it?

I must admit, there was a tinge of fear as I told Chef Elise that I wanted to go for that but her approving nod assured me and I was all set to go. Since the class is only four hours, she handed me the Pate Sable dough which was all done so that I could concentrate on the fruit curd and meringue. So, what I needed to do was to roll out the dough and cut into small disks before placing them into the tartletes, chilling in the fridge for 30 minutes and then blind-baking them.

When the dough was rolled out and being chilled in the fridge (12 of them), I went on to prepare the passion fruit curd.

6 oz. passion fruit puree (I dislike measurement in oz.!!!)
3/4 cup sugar, divided
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cold cut into tablespoons

In a small saucepan, heat the passion fruit puree and half of the sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the puree begins to bubble around the edges. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, yolks, remaining sugar and salt until well combined and homogenous. Slowly pour the heated puree over the egg mixture, whisking constantly to combine. Pour the mixture into a stainless steel sauce pan and add the butter. Whisk constantly over high heat until the mixture is thick and the temperature reads 175F or steam rises off the surface.

Strain the curd into a bowl set over an ice bath. Stir periodically to prevent a skin from forming over the top.

While waiting for the puree to cool and the tartletes baked, it’s on to prepare Italian Meringue! Italian meringue is the lightest and, on average, the sweetest of all meringues.

6 oz. sugar, divided, 3oz. and 3 oz.
1 oz. water
4 oz. egg whites (each egg contains 1 oz. of white)

To prepare the syrup, add 3 oz of sugar and the water in a saucepan, preferably with a spout for pouring the syrup in a thin stream. Stir to thoroughly moisten the sugar, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir while you are cooking the sugar because syrup splashed on the sides of the saucepan dries and produces unwanted sugar crystals. Yours truly, not knowing this, stirred happily.

At this point, I started to call out to Chef Elise, “I need the thermometer!” She went around and after a failed attempt to fetch the measuring device, “I’ll show you how to gauge without the thermometer.” NICE!

Right after the syrup comes to a boil, some sugar crystals will form on the sides of the saucepan. Chef Elise used a moistened pastry brush (with little water) to wash down the sides to dissolve the crystals. This is to prevent caramelisation, she said.

While the sugar is cooking, place the egg whites into the mixer and whip on high speed until they reach soft peaks. When they reach soft peaks, turn the mixer to medium speed and add the remaining 3 oz of sugar. Continue whisking the whites in medium speed until the sugar mixture is ready/ reaches 245F.

So how to tell when the syrup reaches 245F which is the stage we want the syrup to be at. Initially, the syrup will appear in small bubbles in quick boiling motion but when it is ready, the bubbles slow down and appear to be bigger. This is the stage that it is READY!

Slowly pour the cooked sugar/syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream while you whip the whites at high speed. The meringue will rise and become very light. Avoid pouring the syrup onto the wire whip or it will splatter around the sides of the bowl and whip for 5 minutes on medium speed. Continue whipping the meringue on low speed until ready to use.

To assemble the tartletes, spread 1-2 tbsp of raspberry jam into the bottom of each tartlet shell. Chef suggested that I pipe the passion fruit curd so that it would be neater and definitely more presentable.

And then on to pipe the meringue! Then using a culinary torch, brown the outside of the meringue. I was exhilarated to use the torch and invited my classmates to try it too.


What fun!


On Meringues

A meringue is simply a mixture of stiffly whipped egg whites and sugar. When baked, it is very light, sweet and usually crisp.

There are 3 methods of preparing meringue batters, depending on how sugar is incorporated – French, Italian and Swiss.

French (or “ordinary”) meringue – sugar is beaten into the whipped whites. We use French meringue to make individual-serving-size desserts, decorations, rounds for layers in gateaux (pronounced ga-to = layer cakes) and shells that are filled with ice-cream or whipped cream and fruits to become vacherins (classic desserts). We also make French meringue as part of the preparation of separated egg sponge cake batters.

Italian meringue – hot sugar syrup is used instead of dry sugar. Used for some decorations and individual-serving-size desserts and as part of the preparation of vacherins shells and as a frosting on some gateaux.

Swiss meringue – egg whites and sugar are combined at the outset and whipped over low heat. Much heavier than French and Italian meringues and is used very little in modern cake making.

Adapted from The Art of the Cake: Modern French Baking and Decoration by Bruce Healy and Paul Bugat.