January's Daring Baker Challenge
Our January Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Jen of The Canadian Baker blog. She always wanted to try making lemon meringue pie and this was her opportunity for us to all try our hand at this delectable dessert. For those who wanted to try something a little different you could also try making small lemon meringue tarts.
Lemons have been around for centuries and are believed to have been growing in the wild in the areas of India and China. Lemons have been used by people as an antidote for various types of poison, keeping seamen from getting scurvy, and for a wide range of culinary dishes.
Lemons don't tend to get many opportunities to shine at my house, since my husband and I are the only fans of lemon flavored desserts. So, I was delighted to be able to make a dessert that we both enjoy. Lemon meringue pie has had a place of honor on our New Year's holiday menu since we were both children. As traditional Southern New Year's dessert, it would round off my mother's meal of ham, black eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread.
For my holiday menu, I wanted to dress up the lemon meringue tarts a little bit and made them bite sized. Then I used pistachio nut meal in the gluten free tartlet crust to add a bit of flavor, as the basic gluten free flours are some what bland. The chia seed meal was added as a binder to hold the gluten free flours together.
This recipe was easy to make and received rave reviews from my husband. He loved the smaller sized bites were he was able to get a little bit of everything in each bite. My children considered the crust the only part of the dessert worth eating. They made a special request for having tried the lemon thing, they wanted to know if I could make them some chocolate chip cookies. As for me, I was in dessert heaven. Best of all, I have been getting to enjoy the left over lemon filling on toast for breakfast.
Thanks Jen for a great recipe and a wonderful challenge.
6 Tb cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 Tb + 2 tsp sweet rice flour
1/4 cup pistachio nut meal *
1 tsp chia seed meal **
2 Tb palm sugar ***
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 Tb ice water
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 Tb butter
6 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tb granulated sugar
1. Using cold ingredients, in a large bowl pour in the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Work with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle with water and work the dough just until it begins to stick together.
2. Place the dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least 20 minutes. Then turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, press out the dough into a large circle.
3. Peel the parchment paper off the top of the dough and then place it back on the dough. Next flip the dough sandwiched in between the sheets of parchment paper upside down. Peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the dough. Using a sharp knife slice the dough into 2 inch by 2 inch squares and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet.
4. Chill the dough squares in the refrigerator for another 20 minutes. Just before the dough squares are ready to come out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees C). Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Cool completely before putting the tartlets together.
1. In a large sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, dump in the sugar and cornstarch and stir together. Then slowly add the sugar mixture to the hot water and whisk until it until it is completely incorporated.
3. Return the sauce pan to the stove top and cook on medium heat whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Take 1 cup of the mixture and slowly add it to a bowl containing the beaten egg yolks. Continue to whisk until smooth. Add the warmed egg yolk mixture to the sauce pan and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the mixture returns to the boil.
4. At the first sign of bubbles remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until thoroughly blended. Then dump in the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla, stirring until incorporated.
5. Scoop some of the mixture into a pastry bag and swirl small amounts onto the center of each tartlet square.
1. Preheat the oven on the broil setting. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.
2. Slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff glossy peaks form. Scoop into a pastry bag and swirl the meringue over the top of each tartlet.
3. Place the pan of tartlets in the oven and with the door slightly open watch the meringue and remove when a pretty browning has colored the tops. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.
(Jen's pie recipe was from Wanda's Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver (2002) and her tartlet recipe was from David Lebovitz's, Ripe for Dessert (2003).)
* Pistachio Nut Meal: Take unsalted roasted pistachios and grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder not used for grinding coffee and grind until they form a meal. Grind in small batches and not for too long otherwise you will make pistachio butter.
** Chia Seed Meal: Take whole chia seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder (not used for coffee) or spice mill and grind until a meal is formed. I purchased my chia seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH.
*** Palm Sugar: If your palm sugar came in disks, you will need to use a meat tenderizer or other hard object to break up the sugar into a powder. I purchased my palm sugar at my local Korean market, but you can also find it at Whole Foods in the Asian aisle.