Lemon is a people-pleasing flavor. In all of my years of baking for others, this is what I've found. And meringue, well, meringue just looks impressive. With it's pillowy mountain-like peaks that are ever-so-gently browned at the tips from a few minutes in a very hot oven, it's an easy way to class-up your dessert.
But, meringue or not, lemon is always popular. Lemon bars, lemon cake, lemon pie-they're all good. And the last two times I've made lemon desserts (lemon tarts, then lemon bars) my friend, Kora, was sorely disappointed when I replied "no" to the question, "are they gluten-free?" So, this time, I made something for Kora (who is always good to bake for because I get to practice new gluten-free treats and they are always much appreciated) and myself, which doesn't happen often.
So, here you have, lemon-meringue tarts, with tangy lemon curd filling, tiny peaks of meringue, and crumbly hazelnut crust. Enjoy!
Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts
Makes about 18 tarts
For the crust:
1 cup hazelnut flour
1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chilled butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 18 mini muffin tins.
Cut butter into small pieces. Put all of the ingredients into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until mixture comes together (don't worry, you can do this with a pastry blender or by hand if you don't have a stand mixer; you just have to be more invested in this project).
Break dough into 18 small pieces and press them into the bottom and up the sides of the greased muffin tins. Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and dry. Cool.
For the filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
2 egg yolks (save the whites!)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
Stir sugar, cornstarch, and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it's thick and bubble. Remove from heat and stir another minute.
Whisk the egg yolks in a separate small bowl. Slowly add half of the hot sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Add the egg mixture back into the saucepan and stir over medium-low heat just until it boils. Remove from heat and stir in butter and lemon juice.
Carefully remove tart shells from muffin tins and place on a metal baking sheet. Divide the lemon mixture evenly between all of the tart shells.
Make the meringue:
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar in a stand-mixer fitted with a whip attachment over medium speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn mixer up to high and whip to stiff peaks.
Place a dollop of meringue on each lemon tart (you can use your fingers to make more defined peaks by grabbing a bit of the dolloped meringue and pulling it upward).
Put the broiler of your oven on low and place the cups close to the bottom of the oven. Bake about 5 minutes, keeping an eye on them constantly to prevent over-browning.
Cool (refrigerate if not serving immediately).