Meringue Tartlets

After a summer of not doing all that much baking, I decided to kick off the school year with something a bit special.  And I was also in the mood to can things.  So, I decided to make Lemon Curd Tartlets and then jar the extra curd – but this set me wondering, what kinds of other curd are out there?  Ultimately, I ended up with lemon and mango curd.  But the tartlets just looked a little bit bare, so then I made hats of meringue for them.

I have been using the same tartlet dough recipe for years, but I’ve never really been pleased wtih the results, so I decided to try a different recipe this time.  I felt that the new recipe produced a less oily texture, and they held together better.

Also, I should add that I used a really awesome baking implement, which I’ve had for about 2 years – namely, the silicone mini-muffin tin (mold?).  It’s just great.  It does not require greasing or anything, and the tartlet shells (and mini-muffins, if I am using it for them) just slide right out!

Meringue Tartlets

Pastry
3/4 c chilled butter
2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c ice water

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and place into a large bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the flour mixture into the butter until it begins to resemble coarse cornmeal.  Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for about 15-20 minutes.
2.  Roll into small balls about 1″ in diameter and place in miniature muffin tins. Press the balls in to form the shells.  Refrigerate the filled tins for at least 20 minutes.
3.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

Lemon Curd 3 eggs
5 tbs butter, melted
1 c granulated sugar
Juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons

1.  Beat the eggs into the melted butter; then stir in the sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined.  Add the lemon juice and rind gradually.
2.  Cook in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water until thickened, stiring constantly to prevent separation.  Let cook before pouring into the baked tartlet shells.

Note: Extra curd can be canned and stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks.  It goes really well in sandwiches and on digestives.

Mango Curd
1 15-ounce ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1.  Beat the eggs into the melted butter; then stir in the sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined.  Add the lemon juice.  Chop the mango into 1″ chunks and puree in a food processor or blender.  Stir in the mango puree into the butter mixture.
2.  Cook in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water until thickened, stiring constantly to prevent separation.  Let cook before pouring into the baked tartlet shells.

Meringue
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup granulated sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line 2 baking sheets with parchment [Make sure you do not skip this step, otherwise the meringues may not come off of the baking sheets]. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. This could take some time, maybe 10 minutes or more.
2.  Fill a pastry bag with the egg white mixture and pipe into 1″ circles on the baking sheets.  Bake for about 28 minutes, until the meringues appear brown and dry [I like mine really dry].  Let cool completely, and then top each filled tartlet with a meringue.

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