How to Cook: Custard Meringue Tarts

Here comes another Strawberry recipe!

I made these a while ago, and again when I was asked to, and it is now one of my favorite recipes! It's a little more difficult than the past ones, but tastes a whole lot better! People think that custard and pie crust are very difficult things to make, but they are really very simple and take very few ingredients.

So, let's get started!


Yields 24 Mini Tarts or 12 Large tarts.

You will need:

- 1 Muffin Pan, I used the mini version
- 2 Medium mixing bowls, one needs to be microwavable
- 1 Large mixing bowl
- 1 Wooden Spoon
- 1 Whisk
- 2 Butter knives (or a batter cutter)
-1 Fork (Or toothpick)
-1-2 Spoons (to take out tarts)
- An Electric Mixer, or really buff arms!
- A Large Zipper bag, or a pastry bag. (You do not need a tip, unless you want to use one.)
- 1 Large Baking Sheet


Ingredients:

Crust

- 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
- 1/3 Cup and 1 Tablespoon Shortening
- 1-2 TableSpoons ice cold water


Custard 

- 3 Large Egg Yolks
- 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1Tablespoon Corn Starch

Meringue

- 3 Large Egg Whites
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar (Optional)
- 1/3 Cup Sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla

Fruit Glaze

- 1/4 Cup Water
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 1 Cup Fruit (Strawberries)



First you want to preheat your oven to 375˚ F.

Use your large mixing bowl and add the dry ingredients for the crust, mix them together roughly with your knives.


Add the all of the shortening to the mix and being cutting it in. 


Take your knives to they resemble an X, over lapping each other, and pull the knives towards to and spin the bowl slowly, scraping the excess onto the side of the bowl occasionally. This is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. 


Continue until most of the dough resembles little balls, like clumpy parmesan cheese. This mainly makes it easier to knead and work with, and you do not need to make it "perfect". 


Add the cold water one Tablespoon at a time, and either "fluff" the dough with a fork, or with a wooden spoon. I've done it both ways, so whichever you prefer. 


Once there is 2 Tablespoons in the dough begin kneading it. Only add another Tablespoon is the dough is still very dry after kneading. If you just add it without thinking, you will need to add more flour so that the dough is not too soft. (The amount of water you use will change and depend on many things, so never assume that it will always be the same amount.)

Knead it until it is smooth, and form a ball. 


Get out you muffin pan (you can spray it with non-stick cooking spray if you are afraid of sticking, but you do not have to)

Take about 1 Tablespoon balls of the dough and pinch them flat with your fingers. Stick them inside of the pan molds carefully, making sure that they are spread out evenly. They do not need to be thick, as the dough will grow thicker during the baking.


(You want them even a little thinner than the picture) 



Plastic wrap and set these aside in the fridge, along with the left over dough. while you work on the custard. 


Next, you want to start on the custard. Separate the whites and yolks of your eggs carefully. Set the whites in a container or another bowl (not in the fridge) for later. (Make sure to get rid of the little white chord that sticks to the yolk.) 

Use your whisk to beat the yolks together with the powdered sugar until the color turns into a more pastel yellow. 



Add the remaining ingredients and mix for another 2 minutes. (The corn starch is to thicken it up a bit.) It will seem like a thin "batter", but it will thicken up as it is cooked. 


Take out the Tart shells from the fridge and use either a toothpick or a fork to lightly prick the bottom of each one. (About 10 holes each.) 


Spoon the custard into the Tarts, almost completely full but not quite. They will puff up a little while they are baking. 

Bake for 15-20 Minutes. Begin checking on them around the 10 minute mark with a toothpick. You just want them to "set up" so that they are thick and solid, instead of liquid. (If you are using a larger mold you will need to let them cook longer.)



Use a spoon to gently take them out of the tin and move them to a cooling rack. Once the pan had cooled a bit, repeat the previous steps to finish off the dough and custard. 
Next you need to prepare your fruit, I will be showing how to make this with Strawberries. You can make these without fruit, or with a different kind. If you are using a canned fruit you just need it to be cut into small pieces, fresh fruit needs to be prepared this way. 

Cut off the stems and pit the Strawberries, removing the white part.



 To do this take a small knife and carefully cut a circle around the white part and pop it out. 


















Chop them up into 1/6 pieces, small enough to put a good amount on top of the tarts. (You can leave them whole if you want to, but this makes them easier to eat.)


Mix together the ingredients for the Glaze/Syrup into the microwave safe bowl and add the Strawberries. Microwave them together on high for 1 minute, stir, and put in for another minutes. Once done, set them aside. 


You are just trying to soften the Strawberries a little, so make sure to not overcook them. 

(If you have leftover "Strawberry Syrup" from the last recipe, you can use some of this instead of going through all of these steps.)


Finally, as far as mixing goes, you are going to make the Meringue! This is like a fancy marshmallow, essentially. This recipe is for a sweeter version, so if you do not like sweet things you can lower the amount of sugar used.

I really like making Meringue and Custard together so that I can use the whole egg right away and do not need to worry about wasting the whites or the yolk!

You can mix this together as your tarts are finishing baking and cooling. 




I also used "Cream of Tartar" when making this, not many people have this so even though I recommend it you do not have to use this. 






Add all of the ingredients for the Meringue into the mixing bowl and mix with the electric mixer on Medium. 
There are people who do not like using this because they are afraid of "over beating" the whites. I am more concerned with under beating them, and having a runny mess. Plus, hand mixing Meringue takes a lot of strength, energy, and time. This is far easier! 

It will start out looking like this:


Once it is a fluffy white color, and the mixer starts to leave ripple patterns in the whites, turn it to low and mix until you can literally flip to bowl upside-down without it falling out. You want it to "peak", where you can pull it up and it stays up. 

It's also going to more than triple in mass, so don't be afraid of having "too little".

So pretty! 

Scrape all of the Meringue into the plastic bag of choice (zipper or pastry), cut a small tip off the end, and set it in the bowl until you are ready. Make sure to keep this cold and do the next part quickly, you do not want this "melting" egg whites all over!

Set the oven to Broil. If you have a torch you can brown them by hand, but since most people don't it's easier to just broil them all at ounce. 

Place your Tarts onto the baking sheet, keep them far enough apart that you have room to squeeze out the Meringue without a mess. Also, make sure that the tarts are completely cool, or they will melt the Meringue as you spread it.


Start by making a circle around the edge of each tart. You can go pretty far out since it's pretty solid. (Make sure that you work fast with this next part, as the heat from your hand will start to soften the Meringue the longer you take.)


Begin filling in the middle of each Tart. Once you are finished, place them in the oven.


Keep a close eye on them as the are broiling! They may seem completely white for the first for moments, but they will turn brown quickly after that! You need to make sure that they will not burn, but are a nice golden brown color. (They can be a darker brown as well, but that's cutting it a bit close.)
Also, please do not skip the step of browning the Meringue, if you do they will be gross. 





Once they are done, top them with your fruit and you are all done! 




These are great treats for parties since they are portable and small! Plus, they are very addictive! You could also just eat them all by yourself! 

Yum~! 

If you want a more simple way to eat custard, without making Tart shells, you can try this way as well. 



Make the custard just as before, but this time put them into oven safe ramekin type containers, 3/4 full. Place them in a deep dish, and fill that dish with hot water, make sure that no water gets into the custard. Also, make sure that the water covers where the custard is completely, since this is the "water bath" cooking method. 



Keep the oven temperature the same as before, but cook them for about 30-35 minutes instead. Check them and take them out once they are thick. 

Top them with Meringue and brown them just like the Tarts.


Add fruit to finish, and enjoy! 




These work great for breakfast as well as a lighter dessert~! 

Custard is one of my all time favorite desserts to eat, and this is my new favorite recipe! I am so happy with how these came out and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!


Enjoying the noms of their labor, 
-C.A.M.