Little Lime and Meringue Tarts

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I spent New Year’s Eve with my cousin Justine, her two-year old Inaé, and my grandma Paulette (who always hated her name, and tried to get us to call her mamy Pauline instead, still does) 🙂 three generations of women. Justine and I were born exactly four weeks apart. And the funny thing is, she was born two weeks early, and I was born two weeks late 🙂 so I like to think that we would have been born on the same date. Her coming out early, and me holding on and coming out a bit later, is also somehow indicative of our personalities. She’s a lot more ‘here I am world, hear me roar’, than I am. And I like to stay cosy and warm, and just hang back a little bit 🙂 when we were little, before I moved to Copenhagen with my mum at the age of 4, Justine and I did everything together, and with both our parents working, grandma was usually the one taking care of us, and picking us up after school. We would take naps on my grandma’s bed, and go for walks in park Solvay, which had a garden with a lot of little round ponds, that were usually full of tadpoles. Justine and I have stayed very close, and although we’re super different in personality, she’s more like a sister to me than a cousin. I guess having a crazy family kind of makes you sisters in arms 🙂

Last night we drank fancy champagne that my grandma brought, ate salmon toasties, a thai take-away, and then these little lime and meringue tarts that I made earlier in the day. Lime curd is so easy to make, and somehow a tiny bit less sharp than lemon curd (which I also love love love). I love most things citrussy. Did you ever try adding lime juice to pineapple juice? If not, you should try it. It’s like tropical heaven in your mouth. I feel like this would also be extremely delicious with a bit of rum.

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I usually make a biscuit base when I make a lemon-meringue tart, but the digestive biscuits in my cupboard expired in February 2015, so I went for this short crust/sablée pastry from Maja Chocolat instead. Quick and easy to make, even without a food processor, and very easy to work with 🙂

For lemon meringue, I swear by this recipe by the sorted boys, it’s so easy and so so yummy, and looks crazy impressive even though the only thing that takes a bit of time is the curd, and it really doesn’t take very long at all… If I make a regular-sized tart with a biscuit-base, I always make it in a springform pan, so that it doesn’t get messed up when I’m unmolding it 🙂 I think I’m gonna stick to making mini ones in a muffin tin though, because it looks so much more impressive, and people go cuckoo for coco puffs for individual little desserts. This time, inspired by Maja Chocolat, I decided to swap lemon for lime, and I don’t think I’m ever going back. I just fricking love limes.

This recipe makes quite a lot, but you could always halve it 🙂 I made a double portion of pastry (mainly because the original recipe calls for ½ egg, and you know how sometimes, when you’re busy, making a double portion rather than faffing about with weighing an egg to split it in half, somehow just seems quicker and like less work?), which made for 21 little tarts, but if rolled out a bit more finely than I did mine, I’m sure it could stretch to make 24-25 little tarts! Since I’d doubled the pastry, I guestimated that I would need about 1 ½ portions of the curd from the sorted recipe, which left me with a small pot of leftover lime curd (so just enough to make 4-5 more little tarts). I also made 13 more meringue, but I needn’t have, so I’ve put the quantities for a single portion down below, it’s more than enough.

These could very easily be made in advance – make the pastry shells and lime curd the day before, keeping the filled little tarts in the fridge until the next day, then making/burning the meringue on the day of. I would also recommend doing this if you’re going to travel with the tarts, as the meringue will very easily start to slide off if held at even a slight angle (which I discovered to my great dismay, upon arrival at my cousin’s 😉 ), resulting in lopsided little tarts – which is a shame when you’ve just spent ages making and decorating them 🙂 as for the burnt/caramelised meringue, I recently acquired a blowtorch, but before then I would simply turn on the grill in my oven, wait until it was nice and hot, then briefly put the meringue-decorated tart under it with the oven door open, keeping a sharp watch so as to only just burn the meringue, but not melt the curd underneath 🙂

Little Lime and Meringue Tarts
Adapted from chocolat.dk and sorted.com
Yield: 21+ little tarts, depending on how thinly you roll out your pastry

Short crust:

  • 150 g cold butter, cubed
  • 300 g flour
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white, for brushing the pastry

Lime curd:

  • Juice and zest of 6 limes
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225 g sugar
  • 150 g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 ½ tsp corn flour, heaped
  • (You can add one drop of green food colouring, if you prefer your lime curd to be nice and green! But I don’t find this necessary 🙂 )

Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites*
  • 120 g caster sugar

Something to make with your leftover egg yolks!

First, make the crust: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, icing sugar and salt, then mix in the butter with your fingers until it resembles finely ground parmesan cheese/fine breadcrumbs. Beat your egg slightly in a cup or bowl, then pour into the the flour mixture, mixing with a fork or spoon for a bit then using your hands to press the dough together. It will be quite dry and easy to work with.

Roll out bits of the dough at a time on a cutting board, cutting out rounds of it with a cutter about
6 cm/2 inches in diameter (I used a large IKEA glass). Carefully lift each pastry round off the cutting board with a spatula, and place in an ungreased muffin tin. Gently press down to make sure it lays flat against the bottom and the sides (I also pres down with my nail all around the top to make a pattern, before pressing the pastry back against the sides. This makes a sort of flower petal/scalloped pattern which looks lovely once baked).

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Place the muffin tin with the pastry in the freezer for about 10 minutes, then poke little holes in the bottom of your pastry with a fork, to prevent it from bubbling up too much.

Bake in a preheated oven at 175°C/350°F for about 15 minutes, then briefly take your mini crusts out of the oven to brush them with egg white (just the bottom and sides, not the edge), and bake for a further 5 minutes, until golden. The egg wash will keep your tart crusts nice and crispy once filled with curd and cooled.

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Slip the crusts out of the muffin tin, and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, make the lime curd:

Juice and zest your limes into a small pot. Whisk in your eggs.

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Add the butter, sugar and corn starch, then heat up over medium heat, whisking throughout. Once the mixture starts to simmer and thicken, turn the heat down to low, and allow to keep on simmering for a little while, about 5 minutes, whisking now and then.

When your tart shells have cooled, pour about a scant ¼ cup/50 ml into each shell, so that it just reaches the edge.

Place in the fridge to cool (I like to place them in a roasting dish with sides higher than the little tarts, so they don’t get smushed, and cover them in tin foil). They should take a few hours to set completely (less if your fridge is set quite cold because you need to shower and finish the desserts and be at dinner in an hour and a half!).

Finally, make the meringue (once the curd has set completely!):

Beat your egg whites until they make stiff peaks. Then add in your sugar, and beat until the meringue is thick and glossy.

Pipe unto the little tarts however you please 🙂 I used a plastic freezer bag and cut a little hole in one of the corners because my piping bag is dead, so mine are a little rustic-looking 😉

Caramelise your meringue, either by using a blowtorch, or by placing the tarts (briefly!) under a hot grill.

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Keep in the fridge, and take out for about 5-10 minutes before serving 🙂

The tarts keep for a few days in the fridge, and are perfect to have for breakfast on January 1st, accompanied by tea, buttered toast and poached eggs! 😊

🎉🎉🎉 Happy 2016!!! 🎉🎉🎉

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