Lemon curd meringue tarts
- November 2016
- Makes 8 individual tarts or 1 large tart
- Hands-on time 1 hour 30 min, oven time 65 min-1 hour 40 min, plus chilling (preferably overnight)
Smooth, zesty filling encased in crisp pastry and topped with stiff meringue kisses – this stunning dessert is elegance on a plate.
Find out how to make the classic version with our guide to making a lemon meringue pie.
- 43.7g (25g saturated)
- 97.3g (58.1g sugars)
For the pastry
- 250g butter, at room temperature
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 medium free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Finely grated zest 1 lemon
- 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
For the lemon curd
- 6 medium free-range eggs
- Juice 6 lemons plus the finely grated zest 2
- 260g caster sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, well softened
For the meringue topping
- 2 large free-range egg whites (keep the yolks to glaze the pastry)
- 100g icing sugar
- ½ tbsp cornflour
You’ll also need…
- 8 x 8.5cm tart rings or crumpet rings (we used Lakeland crumpet rings, lakeland.co.uk) or one 23cm smooth or fluted tart ring and a mini-blowtorch (optional)
- Piping bag with a round 1cm nozzle
- Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper and put 8 x 8.5cm tart rings or crumpet rings on top (or use one sheet and put a 23cm tart ring on it). To make the pastry, cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with an electric whisk until slightly paler and well combined. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and lemon zest, then whisk to combine. It may look a little split but it will come back together when the flour is added. Add the flour and the salt, then, using your hands, bring the mixture together into a ball. Tip onto a lightly floured surface, then flatten the pastry into a fat disc, cover with cling film and chill for at least an hour in the fridge until the dough feels hard and cold throughout.
- When chilled, divide the pastry into 8 equal pieces (or leave as one for a larger tart). Keep the pastry you’re not working with covered in cling film in the fridge while you roll out each piece on a lightly floured work surface to a 7mm thick circle, turning it frequently so it doesn’t stick. If it does start to get sticky, dust with extra flour. (There’s a lot of butter in the pastry so work quickly before it gets too soft.)
- Wrap the pastry disc around the rolling pin, then unroll it over a crumpet ring (or large tart ring). Carefully ease the pastry into the ring and gently push it into the base and edges, making sure there are no gaps and leaving an overhang over the edge. If making small tarts repeat with the remaining pieces of pastry. Put the baking sheet(s) into the fridge when you finish and chill for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5.
- While the pastry cases are chilling, make the curd. Crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl and beat lightly. Put the lemon juice and zest into a medium glass or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water over a medium heat (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl) and warm for 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar and gently whisk until it has dissolved.
- Put a sieve over a large measuring jug and keep it handy. Whisk the juice mixture into the eggs until just combined, then pour all of the mixture back into the bowl over the gently simmering water. Using a spatula, stir the mixture for about 10-12 minutes in a figure-of-eight motion, constantly scraping the bottom of the bowl so it doesn’t curdle. Once it starts to thicken, turn the heat down slightly and keep stirring. The lemon curd is thick enough when it doesn’t come back together immediately after you run the spatula through it.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and pour the curd through the sieve into the measuring jug to filter out any bits that may have curdled. Immediately stir in the butter until melted and well combined. Cover with a piece of cling film directly touching the surface of the curd so it doesn’t form a skin. Set aside to cool.
- Lightly prick the base of the tart case(s) with a fork, then line with crumpled foil and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes (or for 20 if you’re making one large tart) until the pastry starts to turn lightly golden, then remove the beans/rice and foil. Brush the bottom of the case with the lightly beaten egg yolks (see the meringe ingredients), then bake for 4-5 minutes more – this will seal the case and prevent the wet filling turning it soggy. The base should be lightly golden with no grey patches. Set aside to cool completely.
- Once the lemon curd and pastry case(s) have cooled completely, whisk the curd again to smooth out any lumps, then fill the case(s) and chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight.
- To make the meringue topping, put the egg whites into a medium heatproof mixing bowl, sift in the icing sugar, then mix together with an electric hand mixer until just combined. Put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water, and whisk until the mixture forms a thick, stable meringue – it will take around 5 minutes of continuous whisking. Remove from the heat, whisk in the cornflour, then continue to whisk for a couple of minutes off the heat until the mixture has cooled slightly.
- Heat the oven to 120°C/100°C fan/gas ½ and line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Fill a large piping bag fitted with a round nozzle with the meringue. Pipe small blobs onto the baking paper, in single blobs and small groups, leaving a little tail at the top. (You get this effect by squeezing the meringue out gently with the piping bag held vertically, then making a quick down-up motion before lifting away the bag completely.) Bake in the lower third of the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes (depending on whether you want your meringues more chewy or drier). Once they’ve had their time, turn off the oven and leave the meringues in for 30 minutes more. Remove the oven and leave to cool completely (this will only take 2-3 minutes).
- Just before serving, arrange the meringue kisses on and around the tarts in any pattern you like. If you have one, use a mini-blowtorch to lightly scorch the meringue kisses using a very gentle setting (be careful, the tips can easily catch light), angling the blowtorch from the side rather than from above. Serve immediately, while the tarts are still quite chilled.
Try not to make the meringue on a humid day, as it tends to wrinkle and lose its shine. If the meringue starts to go grainy when piping, just put it back into the bowl and whisk until smooth again.
If you make 1 large tart, there’ll be a little leftover curd. Keep it in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks to spread on toast or use in baking as needed.
If you’re making the big tart you’ll have pastry left over. Stamp out biscuits; bake at the same temperature for 15 minutes.
You can fill the tarts with curd and bake the meringues up to 24 hours in advance. Keep the tarts in the fridge and the meringues in an airtight container, then assemble before serving. The uncooked pastry can be frozen for up to a month, well wrapped in cling film.
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