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The Delicious Appreciations of Pick Yin

Not exactly predictable.
Has enough brains for codes
(but can be completely clueless on other more important matters).
Likes her Joe (and her man?) black, her chocolate dark and her food spicy.
“Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu.” — Seneca

Total Posts   191      Last Updated   23 November 2015 12:00 PM (GMT +8)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lime Curd Tartlets with Raspberries and Red Currants

lime curd meringue tarts raspberries red currants

Since moving to Singapore we've entertained quite often and always had a ball doing it. For the first dinner party we hosted though, yours truly was not so bright and made the mistake of poor menu selection. While guests had downed their aperitifs, done their mingling and were beginning to hungrily stare at the appetizers on the table, I was still frantically frying pieces of chicken and cooking a huge pot of pasta in our hot kitchen, on the verge of a panic attack. That experience taught me to prioritize, plan like a soldier and focus on things that can be made ahead. After all, as the domestic goddess and party-throwing queen put it, friends and loved ones come to have a blast with us, not see me all sweaty and puffed up slaving away, even if it is to prepare a good meal.

lime curd meringue tarts raspberries red currants

My dinner soiree with the girls this time found me in the dessert section. Since Mrs Ergül had recently returned from her Turk husband's homeland, it was only befitting for her to host a Turkish inspired dinner. Now, while I am quite comfortable in making celebration cakes and simple forms of plated desserts, I didn't want to disrespect her passionate other half with an iffy, not-quite-right attempt at a baklava or lokum, the only Turkish desserts I've ever eaten and have great admiration for the traditional (read: authentic) methods of preparing them.

lime curd meringue tarts raspberries red currants lime curd meringue tarts raspberries red currants

So, strategizing in my head, I asked Pei Lin if she would accept lime meringue tarts, with pâte sucrée shells (make ahead?), lime curd filling (leftover from here) and toasted meringue (really the only thing I needed to make on party day!). Plus, I could garnish it with a punnet of red currants I 'found' recently, the same way I 'found' the yuzu to make that cheesecake. Lemon meringue tart is possibly the only dessert I'd order when eating out if I don't feel like anything chocolate. Up till now, all experiences have been disappointing. If it's not the thick or hard-as-stone pastry, it's the overly sweet meringue (not to mention almost always too much of it) or the neither here nor there tart filling. The closest I've come to an acceptable, well-balanced, crisp crusted, tangy and sweet tart was when we were all guns appetite ablazing at Sydney's Bourke Street Bakery last year - not a lemon but passion fruit meringue tart.

lime curd meringue tarts raspberries red currants

While a typical citrus meringue tart would be made with a simple short pastry, I've grown to love pâte sucrée from a previous experience. What could be better than the combination of flavors from a salty crust, tangy curd filling and sweet meringue top, perfumed with bits of lime zest? Actually, I didn't check. I didn't even have enough lime curd to decently fill the eight tarts I planned to bring, so I stuck some raspberries into the shells before spooning over the curd. I did, however, ate an empty tart shell (it broke as I took it out of the airtight container, I swear!), wanted to eat the rest and licked off some meringue that ended up on my fingers while trying to work on my questionable piping skills.

lime curd meringue tarts raspberries red currants

lime curd meringue tarts raspberries red currants

Fortunately, these little fiddly things I tried to pass on as dessert of the night were well received by the girls, and I finally found out why I was asked to make them small. Pei Lin was very specific while we were menu planning. She asked for actual diameters of my tart shells. As we fooled around Pei Lin's kitchen trying to bake her intriguing lavash, Sherie and I practically squealed with excitement when we saw those mini glass cloches, which our host had spiritedly lugged back all the way from Turkey, along with (to the chagrin of her husband) a few other very pretty glassware items. Suddenly these tarts were upgraded from being slightly quirky to rather elegant, shimmering through their individual displays. (Pei Lin, next time you go to Turkey again I'm ordering some, are you reading this?)

lime curd meringue tarts raspberries red currants

The acidity of the tarts was a perfect palette cleanser after dinner to nicely nudge us towards the sweetness of the highly anticipated helva and lokum (Turkish delight). Along with pots (and pots) of çay and coffee, our meal of Turkish peasant soup, lavash cracker bread, fish stew and pistachio pilaf ended with such a high note, it was getting difficult to leave. Yet another animated and eye-opening dinner party (yes to Aegean food!) in the bag. But of course, I shouldn't omit to tell you that we enjoyed it doubly going as guests and coming home with gifts.
Lime Curd Tartlets with Raspberries and Red Currants [Printer Friendly Version]

Pâte sucrée recipe from the Australian Gourmet Traveller, lime curd adapted from Joy of Cooking's lemon curd, Italian meringue adapted from Stephanie Shih's Gimme S'more Cakelettes.
Yield: 18 3-inch tartlets


Pâte sucrée tips: The first time I made pâte sucrée, I used a pastry cutter and lined larger (12-cm) tart tins. This time a food processor I got and the smaller tart shells made rolling out each ball of dough thinly quite easy. Dividing the dough into two before resting it in the fridge cut down the chilling time. If you're also in a tropical (hot and humid all year long) weather, doing things like chilling the flour and sugar, using a cold egg, rolling out the pastry on a piece of parchment and keeping the divided dough refrigerated while lining the tins would help to make the process of dealing with this buttery pastry a lot easier (thanks Alan!). Still, it took me a little over an hour to line and bake all the tart shells, so forever hold your peace should you decide to embark on this back-breaking journey.

Tart filling: Use any berries you like or have on hand to line the tart shells - sweeter ones like blueberries would balance out the lime curd perfectly or mix and match to have fun with it. Rolled into exactly (yes, I'm that anal) 2mm thick, the pâte sucrée lined exactly 21 3-cm tart tins (yes, I counted). However the curd recipe would at best fill 18 tart shells unless you skimp a little here and there or line the shells with more fruit. I highly recommend snacking on the extra shells as a reward while you're doing all the hard work (but don't even consider wasting leftover dough, as this pastry is extremely scrumptious).

Italian meringue: As I couldn't assemble the tarts in situ, I decided on the more laborious but very stable Italian meringue. If you're putting the tarts together just before serving, you could get away with whipping up the simple meringue, though this would also mean they have to be consumed immediately. The meringue recipe here would allow you to completely cover the tarts - the reasons I didn't were to avoid the dessert being overly sweet and to showcase the sunny color of the lime curd. If you're not making this from any leftovers, you will have 6 egg whites left. Freeze them for making pavlovas, macarons or other meringue based frostings.

Pâte sucrée:
  • 200 grams/1 1/3 cups plain flour
  • 60 grams pure icing sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 120 grams cold butter, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon iced water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • egg wash for brushing

Lime curd:
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3 lemons, zest grated and juiced

Italian meringue:
  • 6.6 ounces/186 grams sugar
  • 3 ounces/84 grams water
  • 90 grams/3 egg whites
  • pinch of cream of tartar, optional

  • 1 6-ounce punnet fresh raspberries, halved (optional)
  • Zest of 3 limes, grated with a zester or microplane
  • a small bunch of red currants (if not available, use small strawberries/blueberries/blackberries)

Make the pâte sucrée: Process flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor to combine, add butter and iced water, process until mixture resembles fine crumbs. You can also do this very quickly with a pastry cutter. Add yolk, process to combine, turn onto a work surface and bring together with the heel of your hand. Divide the dough into 2 balls and form each dough into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate, for about 1 1/2 hours.

Make curd filling: Place all the ingredients in the double boiler over simmering water. Ensure that the top pan does not touch the water. Cook and continuously stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken, for about 15-20 minutes (yes, tough job but it will be worth it, trust me). Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool slightly. cover with cling wrap touching the surface of the curd and refrigerate it to thicken more. The curd keeps, covered and refrigerated, for about one week.

Bake the tart shells: Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 (if using convection, turn the fan on). Working with one dough disc at a time, divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface to 2mm thick and line 8 3-inch-diameter, 3/4-inch-deep fluted tart shells. Trim edges and refrigerate to rest, for about 30 minutes. Collect remaining pastry into a ball and return it to the fridge. Repeat with the second dough disc. Combine the leftover dough and repeat to line remaining tart shells till dough it used up. Blind bake tart shells (fork, line and weight) until light golden, for about 15-20 minutes. Remove paper liners and weights, brush shells with egg wash. Bake again until crisp and golden, about 4-5 minutes (if using convection, turn the fan off). Remove pastry shells from tart tins and cool on a wire rack. Baked shells keep well in an air-tight container, with layers of parchment in between, at room temperature, up to 3 days.

Make the Italian meringue: Meanwhile, remove the lime curd from the fridge to soften slightly. To prepare the Italian meringue, combine sugar and water in a small pot over medium-high heat. Clip a candy thermometer onto the pot. Without stirring, bring the syrup to a boil and let it cook gently until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, begin whisking the egg whites when the syrup just begin to bubble on the stove. Start whisking on medium low until the whites begin to foam all over, then increase speed to medium high. Whisk until medium stiff peaks form and stop the mixer.

Once the syrup has reached 115°C/240°F (soft ball stage) and the whites have been whipped to soft peaks, restart the mixer and gradually pour the syrup in a small stream into the egg whites, whisking on medium high continuously. Be careful not to allow the sugar syrup to fall on the beaters. Continue whisking until the bowl of the mixer is at body temperature and not warm to the touch anymore. (This took me a good 15 minutes.) Meringue keeps well in a sealed piping bag at room temperature for at least a few hours.

Assemble the tarts: If you have the time flexibility, do this as close to serving as possible. This keeps everything fresh and the tart pastry shells crispy. Line each tart shell with about 8 pieces of raspberry halves, if using. Spoon over lime curd to fill the tarts. Fill the meringue into a piping bag attached with the nozzle of your choice. Pipe meringue over the tarts to cover partially or completely. Brown the meringue with a blow torch (if you're using the broiler, cover the tarts completely to avoid toasting the filling). If covering partially (like I did), sprinkle the uncovered half of the tarts with lime zest and top with small sprigs of red currants or any other garnish(es) of your choice.

Do ahead: While the recipe reads pretty long, two of the components can be made ahead. I used leftover lime curd from about a week ago. Just bring it to room temperature from the fridge and give it a good stir (folding in method) with a spatula to soften and smoothen. The tart shells were made the day before. Only the meringue has to be prepared the day of, which really it possible for me to show up calm and collected for that fantastic dinner.

24 Comments on Lime Curd Tartlets with Raspberries and Red Currants

oh mygosh the 'tart stand' or mini cake stand is so so pretty!!!
I want one of those too!!

Posted by Anonymous Swee San, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:20:00 PM  

Pick Yin,

You can find those glass cloches at King&King Wong at NEX, Serangoon Central. lot's of them..

Posted by Anonymous RibbonClown, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:20:00 PM  

Great idea to just 'meringue' half of the tart. You've got your best photos here, I think. Is that natural lighting ? The 'menu' photo is especially clear and luminous...

Posted by Anonymous shirley@kokken69, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:21:00 PM  

These are gorgeous and your photos are absolutely beautiful. My friend who lives in Sydney sent me a copy of the Bourke St Bakery cookbook and I absolutely love it :)

Posted by Anonymous thelittleloaf, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:21:00 PM  

the first time i made pate sucree, i wept.

yours are so cute! i've neverh ad red currents before but how i wish i could try them with the lemon curd.

Posted by Anonymous Lan, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:21:00 PM  

Methinks the additiion of raspberries rawwkkkkkk! Excellent quick thinking on your part

And PEI LIN, if you are reading this, i'm ordering those cutesy cloches too!! HEHEHE!

şerefe to our fab dinner!

Posted by Anonymous Sherie @ Maameemoomoo, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:23:00 PM  

ooh red currants - did you 'find' them in Isetan as well? I haven't seen them around ever since I last caught a glance of them at Cold Storage. And the addition of raspberries in the lime curd does sound really awesome! I understand what you mean by a tangy and slightly sweet tart - thus far I find Bourke Street Bakery's one one of the best I've tasted in Sydney as well.

Posted by Anonymous Janine, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:24:00 PM  

ooh red currants - did you 'find' them in Isetan as well? I haven't seen them around ever since I last caught a glance of them at Cold Storage. And the addition of raspberries in the lime curd does sound really awesome! I understand what you mean by a tangy and slightly sweet tart - thus far I find Bourke Street Bakery's one one of the best I've tasted in Sydney as well.

Posted by Anonymous Janine, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:24:00 PM  

little works of art! I am a tad intimidated Pickyin! These are gorgeous!

Posted by Anonymous Sneh | Cook Republic, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:24:00 PM  

Sherie: Actually I was quite worried I won't make enough tarts, so I actually went out in the morning to get the berries. I'm obsessive like that... the whole thing was really PLANNED!

Janine: I don't understand why pastry/dessert shops find it so hard to get lemon meringue tart right. It's as if they can't be bothered and just assume people cannot taste the difference between crap pastry and good ones. -end of vent-

Red currants from Marketplace Paragon. Every week after gym I'd stroll around there to see if they have unusual stuffs in the produce section. The latest haunt saw me coming home with some French pink garlic and shallots on the vine. I would've gotten the tri-color cauliflower if I have a bigger fridge.

Sneh: Intimidated? But why? I've discovered the joy of making tarts. Once the shells are ready, you can put anything into them, mixing and matching to your heart's content. Then they're so easy to pretty up and 'manipulated' to impress people. Hahahahah!

Swee San: This is from Herriott Grace. I love their products.

RibbonClown: Thanks for the info dear, you're a gem!

Shirley: The not so great thing about that is that I was left with quite a bit of very beautiful meringue, which I have absolutely no time to attend to. The photos? I tell you colorful and pretty desserts are easy to shoot lah, no brainer. Just prop them on something and they're good to go.

Natural lighting, I don't have time to play with fakes - this shoot itself took about 2 hours. By the time I got to the 'menu' photo, it was almost 5:30PM, raining like animals and the kitchen was pitch black so I reduced the shutter speed - that particular shot was at 8 seconds, ISO 400, f/4.0. Post processing bumped up the exposure a bit to make it luminous.

thelittleloaf: Thank you. Incidentally the first thing (sourdough) I baked from that book failed, so I'm going to open it again for the ginger brulee tart maybe.

Lan: When I first made it, I swore most of the time. Largely my own fault as the pitfalls were all expected. I see red currants garnishing desserts and pies a lot and bought this bunch out of curiosity. They're more cosmetic than tasty IMHO, would spend my money elsewhere really.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:26:00 PM  

Wow, 8s exposure. That turned out to be the best photo of the lot, I feel. I usually only play with shutter speed and aperture... have not experimented with ISO. At 400, resolution still looks like 100 - very good. 2 hours to shoot?? My god, I don't think I can be so patient....

Posted by Anonymous shirley@kokken69, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:26:00 PM  

Shirley: My mistake! It was 3 seconds, not 8 - was very dark, I thought the it was 8" when I looked at the camera, until I checked the Exif info. It's actually not recommended to go so slow, depending on the background, sometimes the photo can turn out as if it's taken under artificial light.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:27:00 PM  

I have said this! But the tartlets look wonderful!

Looked like you girls have a lot of fun :D I wish I could join leh...

Posted by Anonymous, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:27:00 PM  

Anh: Thanks! If you join in, I'm sure no one will be able to leave. Do come to Singapore some time and we'll surely invite you over. Cheaper for you to fly here mah... ;)

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:28:00 PM  

These are so beautiful, and the combination of flavors is really unique! Love the sound of them.

Posted by Anonymous Stephanie, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:28:00 PM  

These tarts are so incredibly gorgeous! I love how you only covered half the tart with meringue so that the curd is visible.

I have a question: what kind of camera and lens do you use? The quality of your photos is amazing.

Posted by Anonymous --kyleen--, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:28:00 PM  

Stephanie: Thank you!

kyleen: Thank you. Citrus meringue tart is quite classic, my 'flavors' were really put together out of certain vanity (the currants) and chance (the berries). On the camera, I use an old Fuji S2 Pro with Nikkor lenses. It really doesn't matter what gear you use, the most important essence of a good photo is that pair of eyes behind the view finder. :)

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:29:00 PM  

Amazing tarts! I regretted finishing the last one so quickly! I think we should have a high tea session next!! Maybe the guys won't fancy that so much. so just us ladies, what do you think? Oh yes, Anh, please come join us!

Posted by Anonymous Mrs Ergül, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:29:00 PM  

Darn it...why didn't I move to Singapore?

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:29:00 PM  

Pei Lin: To be honest I didn't think they would go so fast. Yes high tea will be good, then again Sherie will have to no choice but to prepare desserts! Heh...

SC: Because we plan to move to Melbourne.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:30:00 PM  

I love your site! Gorgeous photos and yummy recipes. These tartlets are amazing! I'm totally bookmarking this page!

Posted by Anonymous erin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:30:00 PM  

Thanks erin, these are really easy to make if you don't do it all in one day! Heh...

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:30:00 PM  

I am so impressed with your blog!! I adore your photos and all the unique dessert creations. Perfection.

Posted by Anonymous Kristina @ Love&Zest, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:31:00 PM  

Thanks Kristina, you are so kind!

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 1, 2012, 3:31:00 PM  

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