Wednesday, January 4, 2012

meyer lemon meringue tarts

A bitter blast yesterday officially marked winter on the East Coast. The temperature has been strangely mild so far but on the third day of 2012, it hit a high of 24˚F. Today is going to feel somewhat the same, COLD!!! You can guarantee if it's cold outside, I'll be in the kitchen baking something. And since yesterday was bone chilling and I was longing for the warmth of California's sunshine, I made meyer lemon meringue tarts.

Meyer lemons are sweeter than ordinary lemons. Their peel/zest is smoother, brighter and extremely fragrant and let's not forget...juicy! They're easily grown in California and if you've ever purchased meyer lemons in a specialty food shop in NYC, they can start at $1.25 a lemon. I originate from California and luckily my Dad and both of my sisters all have meyer lemon trees. In fact my oldest sister has planted in her backyard my husband's meyer lemon tree that we had to leave with her 11 years ago when we moved to NY. So when we go home for the holidays, I stock up on my meyers. I love bringing home to NYC some California sunshine.....

Lemon Meringue Pie
the original recipe, a pie not tarts, comes from the blog serious eats was made with ordinary lemons

***The juice and zest of 2 meyer lemons were perfect for this recipe. Since meyers are sweeter in taste, I cut the sugar down to 10 ounces or around 1 1/2 cups. And if you're making little tarts, depending on the size, will yield 12 - 14 more or less***

  • One half recipe Easy Pie Dough, shaped and chilled in a pie plate or tart pans ***I made the whole pie dough recipe and froze the other half for future baking***

zest of 2 - 3 lemons, depending on their size and how juicy they are
  • 4 3/4 ounces (1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon) freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice

  • 14 ounces (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) water

  • 17.5 ounces (2 1/3 cup) granulated sugar, divided

  • 1.5 ounces (1/4 cup) cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into small pieces

  • 4 egg whites

  • Pinch salt

  • Pinch cream of tartar

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat he oven to 425°F. Line the shaped, chilled, pie crust with parchment paper or foil and fill with weights (or reuse dried beans) and bake for 15 minutes on the lower rack. remove the liner and weights and bake until the whole crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. 

2. Place the lemon juice, water, and zest in a medium sized saucepan. Whisk together the cornstarch, 9 ounces (1 1/3 cups) sugar, and salt, and add it to the saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks then add them to the mixture and whisk continuously over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick and bubbles, 7 to 8 minutes. ***It was closer to 10 minutes for me*** Whisk for an additional two minutes once it's begun to bubble, without stopping, then remove from heat. Whisk in the butter until it's completely melted. Pour the mixture into the baked pie shell/shells and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Allow the pie/pies to come to room temperature, then chill for at least four hours (ideally, overnight) with the plastic wrap still on top.

3. Before serving: Fill medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer. Combine egg whites, remaining sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Remove the plastic from the top of chilled pie/pies and top with meringue. ***I used a large star tip to pipe out my meringue*** Place the pie/pies under the broiler and watch it carefully, the top should brown but not burn, and it changes quickly. ***If you feel safe and you have one, you can use your blow torch*** Chill for 10 minutes, then serve.

One taste brings me back to California but in my head I'm still singing "Baby It's Cold Outside".....

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