I am by no means a green thumb.
Gardening does not come naturally to me, and with the frosty Canberra winters, and hot dry summers, well needless to say – we have lost our fair share of plants over the years.
However, there are two plants I seem to be able to grow in abundance – rosemary and lavender. In fact, I don’t seem to be able to keep up with their growth – resulting in a decent day of pruning the other week.
The other plant that has survived with relatively little intervention is our lemon tree. I suspect we just got lucky when we planted it, for despite minimal work on our part, it has given us lots of lemons. Even if it is only still a small tree.
And there is something rather wonderful about being able to collect lemons from your own tree, don’t you think? Which is exactly what I did a few weeks ago when asked to bring a “sweet” to share at a BBQ with our neighbours.
The lemons were soon turned into lemon curd, which was then used to fill homemade tartlet cases, and topped with a little meringue. It wasn’t the quickest of sweets to make, and probably not one that I would make if time was short, but over the course of the day the tartlets came together and the end result was quite pleasing.
I loved the vibrancy of the lemon curd, which on this occasion was not overly sweet and still a little tart. I decided not to go too overboard with the meringue either, stopping at just a few piped rounds – although I could have quite easily been more generous and covered the whole of the tartlet with meringue.
Here’s hoping our lemon tree continues to yield!
Lemon Meringue Tartlets
Start by making the lemon curd - a day in advance, if possible. Combine the lemon juice, zest, caster sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a small saucepan of gently simmering water, and heat slowly - whisking continuously. The mixture will slowly turn from a frothy consistency to a thick, velvety consistency - and you will know that it is ready when you can coat the back of a spoon and draw a clear line through it. At this stage, remove the curd from the heat, and whisk through the cold butter until the mixture is rich and glossy. Set aside until ready to use (or place in the fridge overnight).
To make the tartlets, place the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter in a food processor, and pulse until the butter has been cut in. Add the egg, and continue to process until the dough just comes together. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead the dough gently. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
Preheat your oven to 180C, and lightly grease 12 tartlet cases.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is around 4mm thick. Cut out suitably-sized rounds from the dough, and press into the tartlet cases - trimming off any excess. Prick the base of each case a few times with a fork. Place the tartlet cases on a baking tray, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove the shells and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the meringue, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar, one spoonful at a time, continuing to whisk until you have stiff peaks.
To assemble - pipe lemon curd into each of tartlet case. Top with meringue, and brown slightly using a kitchen blow torch.
If you don't have tartlet cases, you could make the tartlets using a mini muffin tray.