Lemon Meringue Tartlets
Crisp almondy pastry, oozing lemony filling, soft sweet meringue – these little tarts are really delicious and a superb treat. Easy to make too. Their one disadvantage is that they’re a bit squishy to transport, so less suited to a lunch box than some of the more robust cakes. I made them for my seniors lunch group and had to wrap each one very carefully in silver foil for delivery. They can be eaten cold or warmed up for a real winter evening luxurious pud.
This week’s theme with the lunch club group was Advent, but it seems that most families in Britain didn’t really celebrate Advent very much before the 1980s, so there were few reminiscences from their own childhoods. They mainly remember buying advent calendars for their own children and grandchildren. We wondered at what age do you stop buying advent calendars for your adult offspring? One of our volunteers was wrapping up a big advent set, complete with chocolate in small fabric pockets for her 22-year-old daughter living in London. Her mother felt that at this season, any small gesture of family love and unity would be welcome, and I’m sure she’s right. We were united however, in thinking that the advent calendars with wine or beer & scratchings didn’t really reflect the spirit of the season!
These little lemon meringue tarts were very popular with the group. Made this way, as individual tartlets rather than one big pie, would be a good way of contributing to a Covid-secure celebration.
Makes 24 little tartlets. Timings - 1 hour.
Pre heat the oven to 180°C. In your mixer using the pastry paddle, mix the flour, butter and ground almonds to a breadcrumb texture – or do this in a bowl rubbing in the fat with your fingertips. Mix in the icing sugar and then mix in the whole egg. This should bring the pastry together into a soft ball. If it needs a little water, then use just a teaspoon at a time until you get the right consistency. Roll it into a ball, knead very quickly just to even out the texture, and wrap it in cling film. At this stage you can leave it in the fridge for an hour or so, but you don’t need to chill this pastry before cooking.
Grease two 12-cup pie tins, roll out the pastry and cut rounds to fit the pie cups. Place a few baking beans or dried beans in each little pastry round to keep the bottoms flat and bake blind for 15 minutes to give you a very crisp pastry case.
While they are baking, make the meringue. In your clean and washed mixer bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and then tip in the sugar and keep whisking – you want it forming “stiff peaks.” Scoop it into an icing bag with a wide star nozzle.
When the pastry cases are baked, bring them out and carefully remove all the baking beans. (And I do mean carefully, using a teaspoon and checking that you have got them all, they have a tendency to embed slightly in the pastry and it would be a disaster to leave one.)
Fill each pastry case with a dessert spoon of lemon curd. Top each one with a swirl of meringue piped generously. I found it used up nearly exactly the amount of meringue but if you have any left over you can always make tiny little meringues just for decoration or treats.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes but check to see how brown they are getting. If you have both trays in the same oven you might want to change their positions after 10 minutes to get an even brown.
Take out of the oven and get the tarts out of their tart tins as quickly as you can, as if you leave them the curd will set like glue and they’ll stick in. Eat within a couple of days, although the pastry does stay nice and crisp.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.