Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lemon Tartlets with White Chocolate Sauce

We all have dealt with the problems with the first pie slice.  It usually falls apart and never comes out looking all that good.  Small tarts, on the other hand, do not have that issue.  Also, the people that are not into sharing that big slice of pie with anyone are always happy having their own individual dessert.

Last time I wrote on toasting meringue, I had advised that I had a welders torch.  It does the trick, but is difficult to maneuver.  So I gave in and bought a kitchen torch and am very happy I did.  I already have some people looking forward to using it for toasting marshmallows for s'mores.  A torch is nice but for this recipe, the oven can also do the toasting for you.

As you know, pie slices are much thicker than these tarts.  Based on this, I think that the tart filling is a bit stronger in citrus flavor than a regular meringue pie. Also, since the crust base is formed by hand, it will make for quicker preparation.  The flaky crust, citrusy filling and billowing meringue compliment each other in flavor as well as texture.  So good you may even forget about the white chocolate sauce!

Lemon Tartlets with White Chocolate Sauce
adapted from Ready for Dessert

Ingredients/ Filling
2 eggs (room temp)
2 egg yolks (room temp)
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 tbs butter (room temp)
1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup ice water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
5 tbs butter (cut into small cubes and chilled)
1 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp vanilla extract
5 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
10 tbs sugar

Ingredients/White Chocolate Sauce
3/4 cup heavy cream
9 oz white chocolate bar/ chopped

The lemon filling starts with combining all the listed ingredients for this components in a medium saucepan. Once blended, place saucepan over medium heat.  Let the mixture cook, while constantly stirring.  The mixture will start to thicken.  Take care not to let the mixture boil.  Once the mixture reaches the consistency of pudding, pour through a sieve placed over a heat proof bowl.  Let cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill filling in refrigerator while the rest of the components are being made.

For the dough, sift together the flour and salt.  Mix in the sugar.  Toss in the butter chunks and beat on medium speed until the mixture resembles small pebbles.  Pour in the ice water and mix with a wooden spoon.  When completely mixed, the dough should hold together when compressed with your hands.  Lightly dust a flat surface and place the dough on the surface.  Form into an even log, measuring about 5 inches long. Cover in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to rolling and baking.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the dough log from the refrigerator and slice into 6 even pieces.  Place each piece on the flour dusted surface.  Roll out each piece, one by one, into a circle about 5 inches in diameter.  Lay the pieces on the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden on the edges.  This should take about 20-25 minutes.
Remove pan and let crusts cool completely before using.

For the meringue, increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the egg whites and whip until foamy.  Sprinkle in the cream of tartar along with the salt.  Beat on high speed until the whites reach the soft peak stage.  Continue to run the mixer and slowly pour in the sugar and vanilla extract.  Beat the mixture until the meringue can form stiff peaks when the mixer blade is pulled away from the meringue.

To assemble the components, place an even amount of the filling on each crust.  It should be in the shape of a mound and leave a 1 inch crust border around the edge.  Divide the meringue into six equal measurements.  Then spoon it on top of each tartlet, making sure that the filling is completely covered.  Make decorative swirls and peaks in the meringue.  Place in oven for 3 minutes.  Then pull out and use a kitchen torch to evenly brown the meringue topping on the tarts.

Lastly, make the white chocolate sauce by heating the heavy cream over low heat.  At the point the cream comes to a boil, remove and add chopped chocolate pieces. Let sit for about 1 minute and then stir until all the chocolate is melted.

Serve tarts warm or at room temperature with sauce drizzled onto serving plate.

Tips and Notes:
1. Dough and filling can be prepared up to 4 days prior and kept in refrigerator.
2. If you do not have a kitchen torch, up the bake time from 3 minutes to 5 minutes.
3. The finished dessert should be served the same day as prepared.
                         **LAST YEAR: Pistachio Cake**