Lemon Meringue Tarts


RECIPE: I’ve been dying to try a recipe from this cookbook, which so far has just been a delightful way to pass time reading and looking and planning. I started with an easy recipe rated 2/5. It didn’t have any unusual ingredients, and didn’t require much in the way of special equipment. It did have a previously unseen way of preparing the lemon curd though. I didn’t alter the recipe.

COMPONENTS: Autumn has been very late in arriving, and my kitchen is still typically 26-27 degrees, so still not much good for pastry preparation. This sweet pastry was particularly susceptible to heat. I mixed the ingredients into a fairly sticky dough, which I then rested in the fridge. It was hard when I removed it, but I quickly identified that the suggestion to keep it cold while rolling it between two silicone sheets wasn’t going to work. It was a big sticky mess! I ended up greasing my tart pan (I use one with perforations in the base for more even baking) and pressing the pastry into the pan, trying to get an even spread. I then put the pan in the fridge to rest and cool it before baking. The secret ingredient in the lemon curd was an entire lemon. Fortunately I found one with a very thin layer of pith. The entire lemon is chopped up and pulverised in a food processor. The other ingredients are added and then the filling is placed in the pastry base and baked. That bit was easy. While it was cooling I made the Italian meringue. I’ve made this before for macarons, and this was my worst effort. The sugar syrup was fine, as was preparing the egg white, but when I drizzled the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to add to the egg white, a large amount of the syrup turned to toffee and remained on the bowl. Despite only getting about half the sugar syrup to blend, the egg white still turned into meringue.

ASSEMBLY: There was an interesting tip to flame the top of the lemon curd first, to build flavour. I then piped on the meringue and flamed it with a brûlée torch. I’ve never used gas before – it was a bit exciting that it worked! The tart bases worked perfectly, despite the imperfect preparation. They released well from the pan, and had a lovely colour and texture. I had to brush away the pimples from the perforated pan – something to consider when purchasing tart rings that have perforated sides – they’d be visible, unlike the bottoms. When I tasted the lemon curd on its own, it had a lumpy texture because the lemon hadn’t become a fine puree, but eaten in the pastry with the meringue the texture wasn’t noticeable.

IMPRESSION: The lemon flavour of this curd was much more pronounced than in other lemon meringue pie recipes I’ve tried, so there may be something to using the whole lemon. Overall, lovely little tarts, and I’m very happy to have broken into this cookbook. There will be more to come!

Recipe by Bernard Heberie from The New Patissiers

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