lemon meringue tartlet
It's that time of the month when the Daring Bakers reveal to the worldwide blogosphere to what good use they put their multifarious skills, industriousness, inventiveness and, last but not least, their sense of humor.
Last Saturday was the day I had decided the deed would be done. The weather helped me by sending a steady rain that made staying inside a desirable option. The recipe chosen by Jen, The Canadian Baker, for the January challenge was lemon meringue pie, but an allowed alternative to the traditional pie was to make free-style tartlets (crostatine), according to a recipe by David Lebovitz, and that's what I did.
Right from the start, I knew this would be a challenge for me, because two previous encounters with this dessert - as an eater rather than a maker - have not left pleasant memories behind. However, that was not a good excuse, and in any case I was interested in making the experience: "Come what come may, Time and the hour runs through the roughest day," as Macbeth says.
Everything went satisfactorily until it was time to assemble the crostatine. My filling was not dense enough, which meant that the first tablespoon that I mounded in the center of a crostatina, based on the written instructions, signaled very clearly that it had no intention of staying put, and rushed towards the edges that provided no barrier to its fluid movement. I quickly spooned the filling back into the captivity of the pan and, after reading the instructions again and verifying that they specified to shape the dough into disks, i.e., flat surfaces, I switched into damage-control mode.
I decided to ask the thick meringue (meringa) for help in preventing the filling from escaping from its flat Alcatraz. As shown in the photo, I built a retaining wall of meringue before mounding the filling in the center of the island, as instructed.
This prevention measure did not work satisfactorily right away: in my first crostatina, the filling was able to outwit me and ran towards freedom. I am happy to report that the other crostatine behaved better, at least until it was time to relocate them from the baking sheet to a plate. In a couple of cases, the meringue touched the parchment paper I used to line the baking sheet, a touch that became a seal after the sojourn in the oven. I had to gently but firmly separate the twain, with, in one case, regrettable consequences (should I call it a security breach?), of which the unruly filling immediately took advantage.
I had a lot of fun squeezing the meringue from the Ziploc bag with a corner cut, my very first pastry bag. A blob of meringue erupting from the top and landing in the middle of my decorative pattern was a not-so-subtle reminder of the need to seal the bag before applying pressure to it. My sense of humor came handy at this point and made me chuckle instead of cry.
After making six crostatine, I had some leftover filling and meringue and decided to make a little crustless pie with them, using a container that would keep the filling securely in place. I still would like to know what I should have done to make the obtain a denser filling. If anybody has any suggestions to offer, please do.
After the crostatine reached the right temperature, I asked my husband to investigate the flavor of the result and report to me. He faithfully performed the task assigned to him and his verdict was: "I like it a lot!" The flattering feedback to my efforts was seconded by our kind dinner guest (and patient too, but that is a different story).
Make sure you use the Daring Bakers blogroll to guide you to look at the masterworks that were baked around the world by my fellow daring pie-makers.