Monday, October 3, 2016

Lemon Meringue Tarts


For the Tart Shells:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg yolk (reserve the white for meringue topping)
1/4 tsp almond extract

For the Filling:
2 egg yolks (reserve the whites for meringue topping)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
juice and grated zest of 2 large lemons

For the Meringue Topping:
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To make the tart shells:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixer cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolk and almond extract. Gradually add in flour and salt. Once it's all combined pinch off a small piece and roll into a ball, press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a silicone muffin tin. You want the dough to be thin because it puffs as it cooks. Repeat with remaining dough. (Alternately you can press the dough into a pie pan and use as crust for a lemon meringue pie)

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden. Let cool for only 2-3 minutes before carefully removing shells from pans. This will prevent them from crisping too much and breaking as you remove them. If this does happen, just pop the pans back in the oven for a couple of minutes to soften the shells a bit. Let cool completely before filling. The shells may be stored in a tightly covered container in the freezer for up to 1 month.

To make the filling:
Fill the bottom of a double boiler with 1 to 2 inches of water and bring to a rolling boil. Place the whole eggs and yolks in the top of the double boiler off the heat. Whisk until the whites and yolks are thoroughly mixed. Place the top of the double boiler back in place over medium-low heat. Stir constantly, watching the eggs carefully so that they don't start to curdle. Add the butter, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Cook over gently boiling water, stirring often with a wooden spoon until the mixture is the consistency of mayonnaise. This takes 10 minutes or so and you do need to let it sit for a minute or two without stirring or else it won't thicken. You'll see it thicken around the edges of the double boiler. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour the filling into a glass bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap across the the surface of the top (so that a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

To make the meringue topping:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Reduce speed to medium and add the sugar and vanilla. Mix until egg whites are glossy, about 1 minute.

To assemble: Place the tart shells on a baking sheet, fill the tart shells with lemon filling, spoon a heaping spoonful of meringue on top of each one. Bake for 4-5 minutes until slightly browned.