Monday, January 28, 2008

Tart 'n Tiny

Lemon Meringue Tarts

So my resolution to 'write more frequently' failed miserably. As you can tell, that was my very last post - on January 4th! So what is that finally lured me back into the blogosphere? It's that time of the month again. Daring Bakers! I figured, eh, when life gives you lemons - make this months challenge - Lemon Meringue Pie! Jen from The Canadian Baker picked this challenge for us and once again it put me to the test. Not only did I wait until today (yes TODAY!) to make the tarts, I am hugely inexperienced in the pie-making department.

Since my food processor died on me a few months ago, I was left with no other choice but to opt for the pastry cutter process for the dough. This was my first attempt at any pie dough, not to mention the fact I have never used a pastry cutter before. To my relief, the dough came together in a jiffy and it was chilling in the fridge without a single drop of sweat. Once chilled, I rolled it out, used my circle cutters and lined the dough into my mini muffin pan. With the leftover dough I made three larger free-form tart shells. After a quick blind bake, they were itching to be filled.

The curd was next on the list and though the process itself was a cinch, the sweat broke loose on this one! After adding the cornstarch and sugar to the water it was only a matter of seconds before it thickened to an opaque glue. I whisked and whipped with all my strength and once the eggs were tempered and added, it felt as though my right arm had doubled in size! I am going to have to learn how to whisk with my left now just to even things out. I spooned the curd into the mini tart shells, covered them with cling film and left them to set for a while.

Meringue has to be one of the easiest and yet most gratifying recipes in the pastry world. It's versatility is endless and it's just plain pretty. With the help of some extra horse power (by way of Kitchen Aid), my meringue was shiny and fluffy before I could fit the tip on my pastry bag. A few dollops of meringue later, the pasty tarts were off for a tan. The crust is lovely - flaky and buttery yet not too sweet. The curd bursts with lemon flavour and is delightfully silky. The meringue, pillowy and light as air.

Et voila! There you have it, tart 'n tiny lemon meringue pies - made with love. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were too cute to eat!

Lemon Meringue Pie - from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie.

For the Crust:

  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
  • 2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups (475 mL) water
  • 1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:

Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or counter top) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:

Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 ml) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.


Dolores said...

I'm so relieved to learn that I have brothers and sisters in project: procrastination, and that it *is* going to be possible to get my tarts baked, photographed AND posted tonight (after I get home from work). :D Great job!

Deborah said...

I didn't finish mine until last night, but I bet that if I didn't have to work today, I probably would have put it off an extra day!! Your pies look wonderful!

Melanie said...

Very, very cute little tarts, I must say, even for leaving it to the last minute (like many of us!).

Mary said...

ok I really want to eat your tarts! They are so pretty!

And I would have procrastinated except I was scared that I would completely ruin them.

Kim Stone said...

Oh! Those must be the cutest things ever! Nice job on the challenge.

cerisegourmand said...

Your LMPs are definitely pretty and cute! I love that heart-shaped wooden spatula you have!

Jenny said...

Beautiful little pies! Sounds like many of us procrastinated this one. I finished in the nick of time! Great pictures!

Big Boys Oven said...

ohhhhh... what a lovely tart, so much to adore!

Princess of the kitchen said...

Your tatrs lok so lovely! Well done!

Miss Ifi said...

Those tarts are for pictures, they just look AMAZING.. seriously.. you have a gift for making tiny tarts, CONGRATULATIONS..

eatme_delicious said...

They're so cute! And your crust looks amazing.

Maryann said...

I love how you did your meringue :)

lovesweetlove said...

Too cute! I love your meringue designs. It makes me want to bake the recipe all over again. :)

creampuff said...

Life should give you lots of lemons (in a good way) because your pies are GORGEOUS!

Amy said...

Aw they're so cute! Great job!

Louise (Gato Azul) said...

I just love the idea of making them tiny. They are absolutely gorgeous. I posted on Monday evening and sent an email to the founders to be included... to date I have not. I guess my application was rejected ;-) It was my first DB challenge, might be my last :-(

Brilynn said...

I agree, almost too cute to eat... Almost!

Chez Denise et Laudalino said...

I love these photos ... looks like the lemons are going to take over the tarts, very cute!

Lunch Buckets said...

Awwwwwww :)

Lunch Buckets said...

Awwwwwww :)

Dhanggit said...

oh my im totally smitten by your lmp!! they look lovely!!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a simply lovely job on your tarts.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

linda said...

Very cute!

breadchick said...

They ARE too cute to eat!! Great job on yoru challenge this month!!

Claire said...

So cute! You did a great job.

Jen Yu said...

how absolutely cute and adorable! your tarts are precious :)

Diana Evans said...

what wonderful food art!!! love it!!!


jasmine said...

these turned out so perfectly! they look like little chicks in a birds nest. nice job!

*fanny* said...

your tarts look absolutely lovely

Peabody said...

A job well done. Both types you made are adorable.

One Food Guy said...

Those little meringue tarts are so cute. I love lemon curd too, I bet they taste great too.

Molly Loves Paris said...

Those teeny tiny tartlets are sooooo cute. Well done!

Jigginjessica said...

They turned out so cute! I was like you waited until the last minute to make mine!

african vanielje said...

Merav, I'm glad the LMP lured you back to blogging. They do indeed look like they've been made with love.

Mindy said...

The one with all the pricks on top (the meringue) is Fabulous- Swanky tarts!

Anonymous said...

I love your tarts , I will make one of those.

Looks delicious.

Maria de l L

Liz said...

I made these last weekend, and they turned out great! I brought them to work for a few co-workers--what a hit! And delicious. It was my first time making any type of pie, and I think it helped that they were tiny. Also, I used fresh-squeezed lemon juice, which made them fantastic.


Anonymous said...

do you mind making the instructions more detailed & numbered? Thanks! :)

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