Lemon meringue tarts

A creamy lemon curd filling encased in a zesty shortcrust shell topped with toasted meringue peaks, what more could you want on a Sunday?  Let’s face it, when life gives you lemons, you’ve got to make some tarts! Baking with citrus is definitely one way of celebrating summer every year and what better way than to start it off with these lovelies.

PREPARATION TIME: 1 hour 30 minutes, including chilling time

INGREDIENTS (makes approx. 4 small tarts)

For the shortcrust pastry:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 125g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 80g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • Zest of one orange
  • A sprig of thyme, finely chopped*(optional)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon ice cold milk

For the lemon curd filling: (Recipe by Donna Hay)

  • 250ml single cream
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 125ml freshly-squeezed lemon juice

For the meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

You will also need: A blowtorch to toast the meringue peaks

METHOD 

For the shortcrust pastry:

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the plain flour and icing sugar. Work the butter into the flour mixture by rubbing it with your fingertips in an upward motion until the texture starts to resemble breadcrumbs. Grate in the orange zest and toss in the thyme leaves as well.

Beat the eggs and milk together in another bowl. Slowly pour it into the crumb mixture and mix, until the dough just starts to come together.

Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Gently bring it together with your hands, roughly shape it into a disc and wrap it in clingfilm. Chill the pastry in the fridge for 20-30 minutes in order for it to firm up.

For the lemon curd filling:

In another large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, single cream, lemon juice and caster sugar. Strain the filling through a sieve to eliminate any lumps and set aside.

Lightly grease 4, 4″ tart tins and set aside. Gently roll out the pastry about 3mm thick and carefully line the tin and trim the edges. Prick the base of the tart with a fork in a few places and place the tart shells in the fridge to cool for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place a baking sheet over the pastry shells and fill the tins with baking beads. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet along with beads and return to the oven for about 5-7 minutes until it starts to turn slightly golden brown.

Once out and cooled, transfer the tart shells in their tins onto a baking tray and carefully pour in the filling. Place the tarts in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the curd is just set.

Note: The oven time depends on the tart tin you use, adjust accordingly!

Once out the oven and cooled, place the tart in the fridge while you prepare the meringue.

Note: If you’re looking to make a bigger tart rather than individual ones, this recipe works for an 8″ fluted tart tin,  which takes around 30-35 minutes in the oven! 

For the meringue:

Place the egg whites, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract into a large bowl and whisk using a hand-held electric mixer or a stand alone mixer. Whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks, this could take a fair while.

To assemble the tart:

Place a big blob of meringue over the top of each tart and create uneven peaks with a palette knife. You could get creative here and even pipe these out any way you prefer.

Using a blowtorch, carefully toast the meringue ever so slightly such that it catches a lovely brown colour just around the edges.

Serve these chilled and you’re good to go!

PRESSURE POINTS 

While making the shortcrust pastry, leave the butter in the fridge until you need it so it stays really cold.

While baking the tarts along with the filling beware of the oven temperature, too hot and you could easily over bake your curd! I’ve done this a fair few times myself, while using different tart tins. If it’s just a little over, don’t worry too much, the meringue helps cover up your mistakes eventually!

If you’re brave enough, you can always do a cheeky test with the meringue by holding the bowl above your head to know when it’s ready! You do not want to over whisk the egg whites.

While using the blowtorch, do so carefully! Try not to over do it, no one likes the taste of burnt meringue!

If you love berries, you can also look up these Raspberry & orange mascarpone tartlets !

If you give this recipe a go, I’d love to see how it turned out. Leave a comment below and share your pictures on Instagram using the tag #thecookbooklife!

Enjoy your perfect summer tarts!

Nikita xx

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