It’s tart season!
When life gives me lemons...
or in my case, a bag of organic lemons,
I made itty bitty Tiny Lemon Meringue Tarts.
This is portion control. Each tart is one mouthful…about the size of a truffle.
The microplane comes in handy for finely zesting the organic lemons. Notice how tiny the organic lemons are? They’re about half the size of conventionally grown lemons…but they’re full of awesome puckery lemon flavour.
Here’s a better idea of how tiny the tarts and the organic lemons are: that’s my Nikon lens cap next to the little critters.
It was difficult to restrain myself from popping the whole tart in my mouth, but I wanted to give you an idea of what it looked like inside.
The crust is from scratch: pâte sucrée. A whole batch makes about 60 extremely tiny tarts. I used silicone mini muffin pans to form and bake the tarts. The lemon curd is also a recipe that rocks. A full lemon curd recipe will fill about 28 mini tarts. You can double it easily. The tarts are piped with an Italian Meringue.
Yes, fiddly, but so cute and delicious!
Organic Lemon Curd
- 4 grams organic lemon zest, finely grated on a microplane
- 4 large organic/free range egg yolks, at room temperature
- 128 grams organic evaporated cane sugar
- 100 grams freshly squeezed and strained organic lemon juice (about 3 small lemons)
- 60 grams unsalted butter, cut in pieces
- a pinch of sea salt
- In a saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until combined
- Add the lemon juice, salt and cut up butter pieces and heat over medium-low heat, stirring continuously with a heat-proof rubber spatula.
- The lemon curd will eventually thicken, coating the back of the spatula. Do not boil or it may curdle.
- Strain and discard residue. Add zest and stir. Allow to cool.
PÂTE SUCRÉE FOR TINY TARTS
- 2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, cool but slightly softened
- 1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large organic egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 cup sifted cake flour
- 2 cups organic all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Beat the butter in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment until softened and light, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and mix for about 20 seconds.
- Mix in the egg yolks and salt, scraping the bowl down occasionally.
- Add all the flours and mix only until the dough comes together. Add the cream and continue mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth.
- Remove dough and shape into a flat disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator until cold, about 4-6 hours.
- Cut the disk into about 8 pieces and remove one piece at a time to work with while placing the remaining pieces back in the refrigerator.
- Between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap, soften the dough with a rolling pin. I use my French-style rolling pin and beat the piece of dough into submission; then roll it flat between the plastic. The dough is easier to manipulate into the silicone muffin molds when it’s softened.
- Using a dowel or in my case, the tip of my French rolling pin, which just so happens to be tapered at the ends to fit perfectly into the muffin molds—place about a tablespoon of dough into each mold. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the muffin mold and insert dowel into the mold, squishing the tart dough to fit. Using a sharp paring knife, cut off the excess dough from the tops of the molds and reuse the excess in future molds. Ensure that there are no holes in the tarts. Patch if necessary, and try to create evenly lined muffin molds. Place silicone muffin pan on a sheet pan.
- Bake the mini tarts at 350°F for about 5-7 minutes, at which time, the tart shells will have poofed up in the silicone muffin molds. Remove the pan from the oven and using the dowel, again reinsert the dowel—this time very carefully so as not to rip the delicate tart shells—and tamp down the half-baked shells until they are reformed snugly into the molds.
- Place the pan back and finish baking the tarts until they are golden brown, approximately 8-10 minutes.
- Remove the pan and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the mini tart shells from the silicone muffin pan by pressing gently on the bottoms. Allow to cool on another sheet pan. Continue baking the tarts in this manner until all the dough is baked off—or like me, freeze some of the remaining unbaked tart shells in the silicone pans for future use. They are fabulous filled with ganache or pastry cream and berries…among many many other things!
- Fill the cooled tart shells with lemon curd (see recipe above). Pipe with Italian Meringue (see recipe below) and broil until golden brown. Serve immediately. The tarts should be refrigerated if there are any left (not!) and can keep for a day or two.
- tart dough recipe makes enough for 60 tiny tarts
- 3 organic egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 75 grams organic evaporated cane sugar
- 23 grams water
- In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue whisking on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
- In a heavy saucepan, heat sugar and water until dissolved. Continue to cook the sugar until the soft ball stage. Pour the cooked sugar into the stiffly beaten whites and beat until combined.
- Using a 1M tip and a pastry bag, pipe the Italian meringue onto the lemon curd-filled tiny tarts. Start from the outside and spiral towards the centre.
- Place the tiny assembled tarts on a sheet pan. Place under the broiler and watch like a hawk until the tops are golden brown. Remove immediately from the oven and serve. If you are inclined, you may use your brulée torch to brown the meringues because in my opinion, there are hardly enough occasions where you can legitimately bring it out anyway.