Week 172: Lemon meringue tart

Whenever I need to whip up something in a jiffy, this is my go-to recipe. And I promised our intern at work that I would bake her something special before she returns to France. So, here it is.

Thankfully, I have frozen pâté sucrée in my freezer, and a lemon in the fridge. 😅 This is definitely one of my personal favourites, and, well, I think it does not rank too badly in the presentation department either.

Makes 4 x 8cm tarts

For the pâté sucrée beurrée

150g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

95g icing sugar, sifted

30g ground almond

250g plain flour

2g fleur de sel de Guérande

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

50g egg, beaten (roughly 1 medium)

1) In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the blade, beat the butter, icing sugar, ground almond, plain flour and salt until the mixture looks like crumbs.

2) Add the egg and vanilla paste and process until the dough forms a ball.

3) Scrap out the tart dough and wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

4) Remove about a quarter of the dough and roll it out to 2mm thickness between 2 large pieces of parchment.

5) Line 4 x 8cm tart rings and allow to freeze until required. There will be plenty of leftover dough which can be frozen and use at a later time.

6) Preheat oven to 170C fan and blind bake the tarts for 15 mins.

7) Remove tarts and the coverings and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes until tart shell has browned.

For the cream cheese mousse

60g cream cheese

7g granulated sugar

1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

60g heavy cream, whipped

1) Heat cream cheese and sugar over Bain Marie until sugar is melted and mixture is smooth.

2) Cool mixture to room temperature then fold in vanilla extract and whipped cream.

3) Fill each tart shell with 30g of cream cheese and place the tarts into the freezer.

For the lemon cream

55g caster sugar

Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

50g eggs (roughly 1)

40ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

75g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) Place the sugar and lemon zest into a bowl. Using your hands, rub the zest with the sugar until the mixture is moist and grainy.

2) Add eggs and lemon juice and mix well.

3) Heat the lemon mixture in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisking continuously, until it reaches a temperature of 83C.

4) Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to 60C, before adding pieces of the butter.

5) Blend the mixture using a handheld immersion blender on high speed to burst the fat molecules.

6) Divide the lemon filling evenly into the tart shells, approximately 37g each, covering the cream cheese mousse. There should be enough lemon cream for another 1 or 2 tartlets.

7) Set aside in the freezer while preparing the Italian meringue.

For the Italian meringue

60g egg whites

40g still water

120g caster sugar

1) Put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

2) Heat the still water and caster sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Start whisking the egg whites to soft peaks when the syrup reaches 115C.

3) When syrup reaches 121C, remove from heat. Turn the stand mixer to low and pour the syrup in a thin stream into the egg whites, avoiding the whisk.

4) Increase the speed of the stand mixer and allow to whisk until meringue has cooled to room temperature.

5) Transfer meringue into a piping bag, fitted with a St. Honore piping tip.

To assemble

Neutral glaze

Yellow colouring

1) Remove tarts from freezer and pipe meringue around the edge of the tartlets, covering part of the lemon filling.

2) Lightly torched the meringue.

3) Dilute a teaspoon of neutral glaze with a teaspoon of water and add the yellow colouring.

4) Spoon a bit of coloured glaze into the center of each tart for decoration.

5) Zest some yellow onto the tart if desired.

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