Lemon Meringue Tartlets

Dare I say it, it feels like Summer is just round the corner! The leaves are back on the trees, outdoor seating has become a thing again and the winter coat is back in the wardrobe. These lemon meringue tartlets are the perfect dessert to enjoy on a sunshine filled day.

The tartlets have a slightly spicy ginger nut case, and are filled with a zesty lemon curd, and finished with a swirl of melt in your mouth meringue.

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The recipe only requires a few ingredients, most of which you probably have already. The case is simply crushed biscuits and a little melted butter (no pastry making skills required!). The cases are filled with a homemade lemon curd – trust me it’s super easy and tastes 100x better than shop bought. And the meringue will take you no more than 10 minutes to whip up. If like me, homemade meringue is a little scary, check out this video tutorial from BBC Good Food.

Ingredients (makes 4 tartlets)

For the base:
150g ginger nut biscuits
75g unsalted butter

For the lemon curd:
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
Juice of 6 lemons
50ml water
2 tbsp cornflour
175g caster sugar
3 large egg yolks
25g unsalted butter

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites
175g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour

Method

Prepare 4 loose based individual tart tins by lightly greasing the sides and base with a little butter.

In a microwave-safe bowl melt the butter in 20 second increments until liquid. Crush the ginger nut biscuits to fine crumbs, using a rolling pin or food processor. Mix with the melted butter. Divide the mixture between the tins, pressing it into the base and sides. Place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.

Now move on to the lemon curd. In a small saucepan combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, water, sugar, cornflour and egg yolks (remember to reserve the egg whites for your meringue). Gently heat over a low setting, stirring continuously, until the curd starts to thicken. Be patient as this could take 10-15 minutes. You can test the mixture by spooning a little on a kitchen towel or plate, it should hold its shape.

Finally stir in the butter. Spoon a layer over the biscuit base and leave to cool and set. Keep your leftover curd in a sealed jar in the fridge.

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

For the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until stiff (they should look a similar consistency to whipped cream and be thick, bright white and glossy). Mix in the sugar a spoonful at a time. Fold in the cornflour. Spoon or pipe the meringue on top of the lemon curd.

Bake the tarts in the oven for 15 minutes, until the meringue tops have lightly browned. Leave to cool completely before removing the tarts from the tin.

 

 

 

Christmas Bakewell Tart

For my second Christmas bake I give you a British classic with a festive twist!

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Buttery shortcrust pastry, beneath layers of cherry jam, frangipane and white icing. I decorated the Bakewell with a gorgeous Christmas wreath, made form sugar paste holly leaves, glacé cherry ‘berries’ and a dusting of edible glitter for a bit of Christmas sparkle.

I do have a confession, the pastry is not homemade I’m afraid! It’s been a busy few weeks with Christmas shopping and starting my new job (exiting times!) and hey, what’s wrong with taking a shortcut every now and then 🙂 If you do fancy making your own, then check out my fool-proof recipe here, it’s super easy to follow and won’t take you hours to make 🙂

Ingredients (makes an 8inch tart)

1 sheet Jus-rol ready rolled shortcrust pastry (if you fancy making your own check out my super easy recipe here)
Cherry jam

For the frangipane:
150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp plain flour
150g ground almonds

For the icing layer:
200g icing sugar
1-2 tbsps water

Decoration
Green sugar paste
Holly shaped cutter
glacé cherries
Edible glitter

Let’s get baking…

Lightly grease an 8inch fluted tart tin with a bit of butter.

Unroll your pastry sheet and lay it across the tart tin. Trim off any extra bits and use your fingers to press the dough into the corners and sides of the tin. Be mindful that the tart will shrink whilst in the oven, so you’ll want to leave a bit of height on the edge.

Put back in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes (this will help stop it from shrinking too much). Meanwhile preheat your oven to 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Remove your tart from the fridge and prick the base all over with a fork. Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake the tart blind for 10 minutes. Take your tart out of the oven and carefully lift out the baking paper and beans. Bake for a further 10 minutes until firm and golden. Remove and leave to cool. Using a knife trim the edge of the pastry to neaten I up.

Whilst the tart is cooling, make your frangipane by first creaming together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Crack in the egg, add the almond extract and add the tablespoon of flour (this will stop the mixture from curdling), mix until fully incorporated. Finally fold in the ground almonds.

Spread a layer of jam on the tart base. Top with the frangipane mixture, spreading it out into an even layer. Return to the oven for 25-30 minutes until the top has set and has turned golden brown. Remove and leave to cool.

Once the tart has completely cooled, mix the icing sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of water until you have a thick but pourable consistency. Pour the icing onto the tart and spread out into an even layer. Leave to set completely.

Time to decorate… 

Either top with a glacé cherry or if you want to decorate your tart with a Christmas wreath like mine then stay with me and follow the next steps:

This step can be done in advance – Roll out the sugar paste until it is roughly a pound coin in thickness. Cut out roughly 20-30 holly shapes. Leave to dry out and harden.

Using icing sugar mixed with a little water, stick the holly shapes on top of the tart in a circle. Add glacé cherries to the wreath for the ‘berries’. Finally dust the tart with edible glitter to give it a Christmas sparkle!

Summer Fruit Pavlova Tart

This recipe is all about celebrating Summer. A homemade shortcrust pastry tart filled with a fresh cream, crushed meringues and topped with sweet summer fruits.

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Now please don’t be put off by making your own pastry, it’s incredibly simple and the added lemon zest will top any shop bought pastry.

Here are my pastry-making top tips:
  • Before making your pastry chill your mixing bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes and rinse your hands with cold water. This will help the butter stay cold resulting in delicate, flaky pastry every time.
  • Try to be confident and bring the pastry together as quickly as you can – don’t knead it too much or the heat from your hands will melt the butter.
  • Don’t be tempted to skip the blind baking step, otherwise your tart shell will shrink.

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Ingredients (makes a 9inch tart)

For the tart

250g plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
50g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large free-range eggs, beaten
Splash of milk
Zest of 1 lemon
Butter for greasing the tart

For the filling

4 small meringue nests, roughly broken
250g double cream
125g crème fraiche
30g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the topping

600g mixed summer fruits
A little icing sugar, for dusting

Equipment

A 9inch tart tin
Rolling pin
Baking paper

Method

Start with your tart case:

  1. Mix the flour and icing sugar in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and work it in the mixture with your fingertips until it resembles rough crumbs. Now stir in the lemon zest. Add the egg and a splash of milk, just enough to bring the dough together, and knead it into a ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Whilst the dough chills, pre-heat your oven to 180°C/350F and grease your tart tin with a little butter.
  3. Take the dough out of the fridge. Sprinkle a clean work surface and a rolling pin with a little flour and roll the dough out so it is about 5cm larger than the tin. Drape the dough over your rolling pin and laying it across the tart tin. Trim off any extra bits and use your fingers to press the dough into the corners and sides of the tin. 
  4. Prick the tart all over with a fork and line with baking paper, pushing it into the sides. Fill the tart with baking beans or rice and bake it “blind” for 10 minutes.
  5. Take the tart out of the oven and lift out the baking paper and beans. Bake for a further 10 minutes until firm and golden. Leave to cool completely.

Now make your filling:

  1. Whip the double cream, creme fraiche, icing sugar and vanilla essence together with an electric whisk until soft peaks form (about 5 minutes).
  2. Mix in the broken meringue nests and fill your tart with the mixture.
  3. Finish by decorating the top with your mixed fruit’s and dusting over a little icing sugar.

Keep your tart in the fridge until ready to serve. It is best eaten within 1-2 days.