Monday, July 16, 2012

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

Although I'm on vacation, I still have been able to cook a bit and try some new recipes.  I really need to get them posted before I forget what we did.  This first one is a tartlet that I made for Brandon's birthday.  He and I both have an unhealthy addiction to the lemon tarts at La Madeline.  I was trying to find something similar to make him for his birthday.  This came close.  The meringue was different but so pretty I had to try it.  I really liked it.  The lemon on the bottom was a bit more tart than those at La Madeline, but I liked it that way with the sweet meringue top.  I thought the custard center was a bit too dry/ not creamy enough/ overdone.  I think if I were making these again I may try to either get the custard off the oven a little sooner, or let it thicken the same amount, but pre-cook the shells partially to all of the way, depending on how creamy the custard was.  I think the oven time just made the texture different - It was still good, and probably more like a lemon meringue pie - I was just going for the custard type tart from La Madeline and this didn't hit the texture factor.
This recipe comes from a book my mom got from Demarle called Classic French Pastries.  The recipe was horribly written in the book - good thing we know how to cook or we never would have made it through the recipe.  The book is full of recipes that look super yummy, but none look like they are written particularly well.  OK- I best get on with the recipe if I want to do a second recipe tonight.  :)  Here is what we ended up doing -with much better directions.  :)
I'll get pictures posted of these cuties when I get back from vacation.

Shortbread Ingredients

  • 7 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 oz sugar (this was just shy of 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/3 cup flour
  • 2-3 Tablespoons ice water if necessary
Lemon custard ingredients
  • 3 lemons (zest and juice)  -original called for 2, but 3 oz of juice.  3 gave me 3.3 oz juice so that is what I used.  I zested all 3.    Be the judge of the size of your lemons.
  • 6 1/2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
Meringue ingredients
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 egg whites
  1. To make the shortbread; Beat butter and sugar in a mixer.  Blend in flour and salt.  If looking crumbly, add ice water a teaspoon at a time until a dough forms.  (original called for no water, we just found it necessary.)
  2. Roll out dough on a silicon mat and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Using a 3 7/8 inch round, scalloped dough cutter, make 12 circles of dough. Line a tartlet mold with the dough circles.  (As a reference, we used a Demarle tartlet tray.  It made 12 tarts that were 3 1/4 " x 3/4" and 2 oz.  I loved the idea of cutting the tart crust out with the scalloped circle. It made the tarts so cute with no extra effort.  You could adjust the size of the tart as necessary, but may need to adjust cooking time as well.)  
  4. Heat oven to 340.  
  5. For the lemon custard;  Heat lemon juice and zest with butter until melted.  Add powdered sugar.  Slowly whisk some of the hot liquid into the beaten eggs to temper the eggs.  When they have warmed a bit, pour them slowly into the remaining lemon mixture whisking continuously.  
  6. Heat over low heat until thickened.  
  7. Fill the tartlet shells with the cream.  Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. To make the Meringue.
  9. Heat sugar and water.  When the temperature reaches 200, whip up the egg whites until firm.  
  10. When the sugar syrup reaches 225, remove from heat and slowly pour into the egg whites while still beating them.  Beat until mixture has cooled down.
  11. Place the meringue in a pastry bag with a small fluted tip.  Pipe onto the tartlets in a circle pattern (or as desired.)
  12. Place tarts on a baking sheet and broil for a few seconds - until browned on top.

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