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lemon meringue pies

August 8, 2011
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Not sure if it’s just me but I have always associated lemons with summer. The colour, the tang. Fresh iced lemonade. Light citrus-y salads. So I was stomped to see them in abunadance in the peak of a miserable rainy winter! (Yeah okay its been pretty darn glorious, crisp and clear here recently.) Is it just my tree or have I just been missing something?

Okay so a little bit of research shows that lemons and other citrus are, and always have been, winter fruits in New Zealand…

Well, ignorance aside, I’m not going to complain.

J encouraged me to make something lemony to utilize the bounty appearing over the fence (you know the rule, if its on your side, it’s yours).

I’m going to avoid the cliche “if life throws you lemons blah blah” because life didn’t throw me lemons. I picked them. And made lemon curd.

Lemon Curd

Recipe from Patent and the Pantry

* 3 large eggs
* 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 -3 lemons)
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
* 1 tablespoon lemon zest (or 3 if you like zesty bits in your curd. I do)

In a stainless steel bowl placed over a pot of simmering water, whisk eggs, lemon juice and sugar. Cook, constantly stirring, until mixture becomes thick. (This took about 10 minutes for me.) Remove bowl from heat and strain to remove lumps and cooked bits of egg. Add the diced butter and whisk into lemon mixture until melted. Stir in zest and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap (I press mine right onto the curd to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate.

And then made pastry. Using this unshrinkable pastry recipe. I hate to say it, but my pastry shrank. And I had to use baking beans after all. So I think I’ll stick to my usual pastry recipe that doesn’t get my hopes up in claiming to be unshrinking.

Look at those wonderful globs of butter. Those rise and melt during baking giving it that flakeyness.

The Great Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes one 9-inch tart crust or 30 muffin-pan-sized tart shells.

* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
* 4 1/2 ounces very cold (or frozen) butter, cut into small pieces
* 1 large egg

Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling. Roll out on a lightly floured bench and, using a cookie cutter, cut into circles, smaller ones for mini muffins pans and slightly larger for normal-muffin pans. Press them into tins and freeze for 30mins. Preheat overn to 180 and bake, with foil and baking beans, for 15 minutes or until golden. If they bubble up, press down with the back of a spoon. You have a few seconds to reshape them if necessary. Remove from pans and leave on cooling rack to crisp up.

Layer up the pastry shells with lemon curd and top with meringue mixture (Taste magazine had a feature on meringues so I thought I’d turn these lemon curd tarts into lemon meringue pies using their recipe and tips). Flame torch or bake under a hot (200 degrees C) oven for a few minutes until meringue has cooked and become golden ontop.

Invite some friends over and enjoy :)

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