These classic lemon meringue tarts are zesty, lemony and finished with a delicately torched Italian meringue.
Add the flour, powdered sugar and salt to a bowl and mix. Add the butter cubes to the bowl and use your fingers to press the butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture forms. (See notes)*
Add water, 1 tbsp at a time and mix until a dough forms. Knead the dough once or twice then shape it into a slightly flattened ball with your hands. Wrap the dough in cling film, then chill for at least 1 hour. While the pastry is chilling - make the filling.
Once chilled, preheat your oven to 190 C (375 F). Split the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll out the pastry 1-inch larger than your mini tart tins. Fill each tart tins then use a fork to prick the base of the pastry several times.
Bake pastry for 15 - 20 minutes until golden. (Set notes)**
Place the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice into a glass bowl and whisk to combine. Add water to a saucepan and set the bowl on top. Place the saucepan on a medium heat and whisk lemon curd continuously until mixture becomes thick. (This will take 10 – 15 minutes. If you have a thermometer, it should register 75 C (170F). The curd will continue to thicken once cooled.)
Remove from heat and immediately strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Add the butter cubes and whisk until completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow filling to cool to room temperature then fill each shortcrust case.
Refrigerate the lemon tarts for at least 4 hours until set
Use an electric whisk to begin beating the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. They should stand up straight when the whisk is removed.
Next, make a sugar syrup by adding the sugar and water to a saucepan. Stir the sugar and water together over a medium heat. (Dip a pastry brush in water and brush any bits of sugar from the sides of the pan down into the syrup to melt, otherwise, it will turn the sugar syrup grainy.)
When all of the sugar is dissolved, bring it to a boil until it reaches 120 C (250 F). As soon as the syrup reaches the correct temperature, pour it onto the egg whites in a thin, steady stream as you whisk.
When all the syrup has been mixed, continue to whisk the meringue until it has cooled. It should be shiny and stiff. Pipe or spread it onto your tarts then use a blowtorch to caramelise the meringue.
Serve and enjoy!
* Try not to warm the butter too much when making the pastry. I recommend using a food processor to make the pastry if possible. Add the dry ingredients to a food processor and pulse. Add the butter cubes and continue to pulse until crumbs form. Trickle the cold water (1 tbsp at a time) into the food processor and pulse until a dough ball forms.
** If you have baking beans then use those. They aren't necessary but your pastry cases may dome at the base. Apply pressure to keep the base flat after removing them from the oven.
*** Each tart tin is 4-inches in diameter. This recipe will also fit a standard 9-inch tart tin but baking times for the shortcrust pastry should be adjusted accordingly.