Friday, June 29, 2012

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

I'm so happy, I've finally made a meringue that works! I used to play around with the French meringue because it's so easy to make, but its also unstable.  I once tried it on a lemon tart and had the problem of it turning into an oozy mess.  I’ve also tried the Italian meringue, it’s how I make my macarons but for some reason, it’s always turned out runny, beautifully glossy but runny.  I’m not complaining because my macarons still turn out well, but the Italian meringue on its own wouldn’t hold, it just never obtains firm peaks.  Can someone please tell me where I’m going wrong, it drives me bananas!!  But then I tried the Swiss meringue for the first time, and it works! Yay it works! To make the Swiss meringue, I beat the caster sugar and egg whites over a bain marie on low speed until it reaches around 60 degrees, and then I take it off the bain marie and increase the speed and beat until the meringue cools to around 35 degrees.  Oh and yes, I have a new digital thermometer now! Life without a digital thermometer just didn’t feel right! Let’s hope we don’t have a second drowning.
So voila, lemon meringue tartlets!  Haha, well not quite! For the filling, I used a lemon curd recipe. I was planning on using one of the most famous lemon curd recipes out there (of course by Pierre Herme), but I’ve been using Guillaume Brahimi’s for a while now which has always been a winner with me, so why rock the boat? Brahimi calls for the addition of gelatine, which is fine except that when you have leftover filling, you can’t do much with it because it sets so firmly and so I end up throwing it out.  Being Asian, that goes against every grain in my body!  I omitted the gelatine this time but I was a bit worried the filling wouldn’t be firm enough.  As it turns out that the addition of cold butter is what will help make the curd set. 
I love how the curd holds its shape, they’re such cute little round domes.  I always wondered how the French patisseries managed to get such beautiful domes on their tarts and now I know! I was so impressed with how they turned out, I was going to leave the lemon tartlets as is.  But then I thought that if I was going to leave it "as is", then I'd want the curd to really glisten just like in the French patisseries, so to give it some shine, I glazed half of the tartlets with an apricot glaze. But the pastry brush left these nasty streaks on the curd. Arghh! So I decided to hide those nasty streaks by making a meringue.
As for the pate sucre, I really love Brahimi’s recipe.  It’s got a beautifully buttery taste to it, like shortbread, I could just eat it on its own or with a nice cup of coffee! Yum! 
I thought the lemon tartlets tasted great on their own, but when I added the meringue, they were divine!  I imagined the meringue would add a sickly sweet taste to the tartlets, but it didn’t.  As I love the zing of a lemon tart, I would add a little bit more lemon next time.  
I piped the meringue a little too high which makes eating it a bit of a messy affair! Amongst friends, there is no shame in having your nose dipped into a bit of meringue with each bite full, but if you’re there to impress, well I would avoid this! Or you could just use a fork! But who wants to use utensils when these are miniature size!
P.s.  What a momentous month of baking and blogging! Let's hope I can keep it up next month!

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