These lemon meringue tarts are ideal when you don’t want the inconvenience of serving a complete pie. Eight individual tart-sized portions delivering exactly the same punch of the sweet meringue and the tang of the lemon are sure to delight your family and friends at a buffet or a picnic or as an easy-serve dessert.
- 17½ ounces / 500g pack shortcrust pastry
- zest and juice of 4 lemons
- 3½ ounces / 100g unsalted butter
- 11½ ounces / 325g caster sugar
- 8 eggs
- a few drops malt vinegar
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C) / 356°F (320°F fan) / gas mark 4
Separate the white and yolks of four of the eggs.
Roll out the pastry and use it to line eight 4-inch /10cm fluted loose-bottomed tart cases. Let a little pastry hang over the tops.
Use a fork to prick the pastry bases.
Line each of the pastry cases with baking paper and fill with baking beans.
Put them in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the beans and the paper and bake for another 5 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
When cool, use a serrated knife to neatly level the pastry.
Meanwhile, put the zest, juice, butter and 8 ounces / 225g of the sugar into a large heavy-based pan.
Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then remove the pan from the heat.
Beat the 4 whole eggs and yolks together, then add them, stirring, into the pan. Continue stirring over a low heat for 5-10 minutes until thickened.
Sieve the curd mixture into a bowl, then spoon into the cases (see Tips below).
Whisk the egg whites with 1¾ ounces / 50g sugar in a grease-free bowl until it forms stiff peaks. Whisk in the vinegar, then gradually whisk in the remaining sugar.
Put a good dollop of meringue on top of each tart, then dip a palette knife in hot water and make little peaks on each. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until just browned on top.
Allow to cool, then serve.
Any leftover curd will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
The lemon custard that makes the basis of a lemon meringue pie is thought to have been invented by the Quakers in the late 1700s. Elizabeth Coane Goodfellow, a pastry chef and businesswoman who arrived in Philadelphia in 1806 and founded a cooking school, then expanded the recipe by adding the meringue, thereby inventing the lemon meringue pie itself.