Lemon Meringue Tarts
I had a cocktail party to go to on Saturday night and apart from each guest being asked to bring a bottle of something (preferably lurid and potent) we were asked if we could provide any food. I think I was the only one who actually did, other than the host, and as we turned up after performing in a concert without having had dinner, I think we ate a large portion of what I bought!
I don't know when I thought of making little tartlets with the lemon butter I'd made recently, but I think it was a good idea, and pretty easy to do. I went to the effort of making my own pastry, but it's really not something you'd have to do. Frozen shortcrust would be just fine. I worry that I'm taking this domestic spirit thing too far, but I have to admit that the recipe I found for pate brisee is so damn easy that even I haven't had a problem making it, and when it comes to anything fiddly or capricious my fingers turn into thumbs. It also helps that it's the best pastry I've ever tasted - so light and full of flavour - and it's made in the food processor. Thank you Pascal, via Clothilde!
So, with pastry shells made and baked, I stored them for about a week before finishing them on the day (another virtue of this pastry, it keeps well). Filled them with a spoon of lemon butter before adding a dollop of meringue I'd made with 2 egg whites, 1/2 cup caster sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Add the sugar gradually so it dissolves between each addition. Easy as.
Making the meringue adhere to the tarts with any degree of artistic effort was pretty difficult and again my fingers failed me, but I survived to the end to sprinkle them with some raw caster sugar (made by CSR, and tastier than the normal stuff) place them in a hot (200c) oven for about 7 minutes until slightly browned and crisp.
Something like this could be a sugar overload, but a good home-made lemon butter is sour enough for the balance to work between marshmallow-like meringue, creamy sour lemon butter and the crisp tart shell. And at about 1am, with at least 4 cocktails already into us, these were pretty widely appreciated!