In Greece, citrus is in season with the whole country being flooded with oranges from Crete and Laconia and the lemons being supplied from Argolida (Nafplio). Here in Canada, we’re not so lucky and we rely on imports from the South to help us stave-off scurvy with a supply of vitamin-C rich citrus from Florida and California.
This dessert is inspired by the Lemon Phyllo Tarts I had last year when I visited Toronto’s Malena to check out their new Spring Menu. The tarts arrived as part of a trio of desserts that were kissed by the Mediterranean spirit and influences of Italy and Greece. These tarts are simply some phyllo pastry placed into a muffin tin (baked) then filled with a lemon curd and finished with a meringue. Lemon Meringue Pie in phyllo.
As a Greek, we always have commercial phyllo in the freezer and all one has to do is thaw it overnight in your fridge before using. The idea to try my hand at lemon meringue phyllo tarts came to me on New Year’s Eve, upon seeing that we had lots of leftover sweets and thinking that another big dessert production was unnecessary. One could make as much or as little as they want (2 to 12), they are easy to make and just three movements to the recipe.
With the phyllo thawing in the fridge, the first step would be to make a lemon filling: I go to trusted sources and Paula’s recipe for lemon curd at Dragon’s Kitchen was easy, delicious and perfect for these lemon phyllo tarts. The pyllo cups and lemon curd can be made a day or two before and the meringue can be whipped the day of serving.
These tarts were refreshing with just enough lemon to pucker your mouth yet balanced with sweetness. Texture-wise you have the creamy lemon curd juxtaposed with the crunch of the phyllo pastry and then there’s the light bruleed meringue on top that rounds out the flavours with a hint of burnt flavour.
Commercial phyllo is available at Greek, Middle-eastern shops and now found at most supermarkets, the lemon curd is something easily made in your kitchen and lemons are in season – don’t used that bottled stuff! The meringues can be finished with a kitchen torch or using the broiler feature of your oven. A delicious, light dessert option that kids and adults alike with adore.
Lemon Meringue Phyllo Tarts
For the Lemon Curd
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
Splash of Limoncello (optional)
Zest of 1/2 of lemon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold & cut into cubes
For the Phyllo Cups
4 sheets of phyllo pastry (thawed overnight in your fridge)
1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 muffin tin
For the Meringue
4-5 large egg whites
1/4 cup icing sugar
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- Prepare an ice water bath for the finished curd and set aside. Add an inch of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. In a medium metal bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until smooth. Whisk in salt, lemon juice, Limoncello and lemon zest. Add the cold butter cubes. Place bowl over the pan of simmering water and cook, whisking frequently until the butter is incorporated and the curd is thick; about 15 minutes.
- Transfer the bowl to the ice water bath and leave it to cool, stirring occasionally. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cooled lemon curd and transfer the bowl to the refrigerator until it’s completely cold (about 4 hours or overnight).
- Paint the insides of the muffin moulds with melted butter and pre-heat your oven to 325F. Lay a sheet of phyllo on work surface then brush with butter than sprinkle sugar and ground almonds. Repeat with the next two sheets of phyllo and simply brush the fourth sheet with butter.
- Now measure and cut the phyllo into 4″ x 4″ squares and press each into the muffin moulds and bake on the center rack for 10-12 minutes or just until golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then remove the phyllo cups from the pan.
- Carefully separate your egg whites and place in a clean bowl and add the icing sugar and cream of tartar and whisk until dissolved then beat with an electric mixer until still peaks have formed.
- Take the lemon curd out of your fridge and spoon equal amounts into each phyllo cup then either place the meringue in a piping bag and top each tart or simply spoon it on top.
- Use a kitchen torch to brulee your meringues or place the phyllo tarts on a baking tray and place on the middle rack and broil until just browned. Serve immediately or place in the fridge until ready to serve then return to room temperature before serving.
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