Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lemon Meringue Tartlets - Wee Bites of Fun

My Grandma Fern was quite a strong, loving and very hospitable person. She would always feed and offer refreshment to any person who may stop by or who was in need. She wasn’t the best cook, but she did have a few great dishes that I remember and to this day love. One of them is lemon meringue pie, my favorite of pies.

The lemon part of the pie had a nice tartness to it and the meringue was very smooth and sweet. This all fit so well with a buttery and crumbly crust that just melted in your mouth. It brings back memories of the freedom of childhood every time I have a bite.

So in her honor I have recreated her lovely dish into Lemon meringue tartlets, which are perfect little mouthfuls for your upcoming holiday parties. You make them in the mini muffin tins, which makes them just a tiny bite of indulgence. A perfect mini bite of lemony bliss. I do hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 
Happy holidays!

Lemon Meringue Tartlets
Makes 24 mini tartlets

Pie dough:
Makes 12 tartlet shells (you will need to make double this recipe for the lemon meringue tartlets)
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening cut into 4 pieces
1/3-1/2 cups ice cold water

Preheat oven to 350.
Process 1 ½ cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 30 seconds. The dough should be a course crumbly mixture. Then slowly add the water as you pulse till the dough comes together and forms a ball. Take dough out, flatten and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes or overnight.

Grease mini muffin pan and set aside. Divide dough into 4 sections. Roll out each section on well floured surface. Use round or scalloped edge cookie cutter to cut out pie shells (the size of the circle should be just larger than the opening of the mini muffin tin hole). Lightly push down the down into the pan. Fill all spaces on the pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden. Let cool. Carefully pull out tart shells and line on a flat cookie sheet.

Lemon curd:
1/3 cup butter
finely grated zest of a lemon
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs

For the lemon curd, heat the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl, and slowly whisk in a small amount the lemon mixture. Return whisked mixture to the pan and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it just begins to simmer and thicken. If you want it super smooth, pour it through a fine sieve set over a bowl. You can refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight. It will thicken as it cools.

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt

To make the meringue: in a mixer bowl (or beat by hand), beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until the meringue holds stiff peaks.

To assemble:
In piping bag with wide round tip, squeeze out the lemon curd into the prepared and cooled tart shells. Then pipe with star tip, the whipped meringue mixture in a nice little swirl.

Place the tartlets on a baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for about 3 minutes, until meringue tips are just browned. Serve immediately or refrigerate until you’re ready for them.
Makes about 2 dozen tartlets.

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