Mini lemon meringue pies: perfect for picnics (or Paralympic torch relays…)

So last night, we met up with the Foxys and Glam C and their families for a very special evening.  The Paralympic Torch was due to come through our local town at about 11pm (inconvenient time – why couldn’t they travel during the day?), so we met in the pub, then wandered into town to soak up the atmosphere and drink gin sneakily out of jam jars. As you do…

After all that, the torch convoy didn’t appear until after 1am, by which time we were a bit nippy and very tired, but still the atmosphere was amazing… the police outriders high fiving all the kids as they drove past, and everyone daring to walk, cycle or drive down the high street being subjected to massive cheers and whistles.  A long night, but oh it was fun…

We all agreed to take a few nibbles along.  I decided to take some mini meringue pies… really easy to make and, cooked in some paper muffin cases, not too messy to eat either:

For the pastry, you’ll need:

200g cold butter

400g plain flour

Pinch salt

1tbsp caster sugar

1 egg

Firstly, preheat the oven to 180/gas 4.  It’s easiest to do this in the food processor (the pastry, not the preheating.  That would be silly), but you can do it by hand if you’re not as lazy as me.

Chop your cold butter into squares and add it to the flour, salt and sugar.  Process it until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Now plop in the egg and pulse slowly until it comes together.  Every time you make pastry it will be different, but you should find it comes together quite well. If it’s really dry, add a tablespoon or two of cold water.

Flour the work surface and squish the mixture together into a ball.  Wrap it in clingfilm and chill for about 2o minutes.  Next, roll it out to about 5-6mm thick, then cut out rounds using a pastry cutter that’s about the same size as the top of the paper cake cases.  Pop each round into a paper case and push it down gently.  Carry on until you’ve done all 12, then stab each one with a fork a couple of times and pop it into the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the lemon curd (or buy it – I won’t tell):

100g butter

2 lemons, zested then juiced (if you’re using bottled juice, it’s about 6 tbsp)

150g caster sugar

2 eggs plus 1 extra yolk (keep the white for the meringue)

Take a saucepan and bung in the butter, juice, zest and caster sugar.  Melt it all together slowly until the sugar is all dissolved.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until well combined.  Now, take your warm lemony butter mixture and gently pour a little bit into the egg, whisking all the time, then a bit more, then a bit more, until you’ve combined about half of it with the eggs.  Now bung that lot back into the saucepan and keep whisking and simmering until the mixture thickens.  Make sure there’s someone behind you at this point shouting ‘WHISK! WHISK FASTER!’, or you can just imagine me shouting it in your head (you’re welcome).

Turn off the heat and leave to cool.  Remember to just stir it occasionally to keep it from getting a skin on.  When it’s about room temperature, pour it into the pastry cases and set aside while you make the meringue:

2 egg whites

115g caster sugar

Pinch of Cream of Tartar

Whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl until they form firm peaks, then keep whisking while you add the Cream of Tartar, then the sugar, spoon by spoon, until it’s all incorporated and the meringue is thick and glossy.  Pile  (or pipe) it on top of the lemon curd then bake for a further ten minutes.

And I’ll leave you with this, a blurry close up of the torch bearer’s delighted face. Doesn’t that make it all worth while?

For more photos of the Paralympic Torch Relay, check out my Facebook page


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