These tartlets use a traditional Breton biscuit recipe for the base. It’s a great alternative to classic pastry as there’s no need to chill or roll out the dough. I like to add some freshly ground black pepper to my meringue. It may sound odd, but the little spicy kick works really well with the acidity of the grapefruit curd.
By Rachel Khoo
From The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo
For the grapefruit curd:
- 1 grapefruit
- ½ cup sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 heaped tbsp cornstarch
- 4 tbsp soft butter, cubed
For the biscuit base:
- 5½ tbsp butter, very soft but not melted
- 6 tbsp sugar
- a generous pinch of salt
- finely grated zest of ½ lemon
- 2 egg yolks
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
For the Italian meringue:
- ½ cup sugar
- 2½ tbsp water
- 2 egg whites
- a pinch of salt
- ½ tsp pepper
TO MAKE THE GRAPEFRUIT CURD: Finely grate the zest of the grapefruit and squeeze the juice. Measure 6 tablespoons juice into a pan and whisk together with the zest, sugar, salt, and eggs over a gentle heat. Sift in the cornstarch and continue to whisk. Don’t stop whisking at any point, otherwise the eggs will curdle. Once the curd is as thick as puréed tomatoes and has released a bubble or two, take it off the heat and whisk in the butter a cube at a time. Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap in direct contact with the curd. Refrigerate for at least an hour (best overnight).
TO MAKE THE BISCUIT BASE: Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter six 3¼-by-2-inch metal dessert rings. Cream together the butter and sugar with the salt and lemon zest until fluffy and pale in color. Add the egg yolks and continue to beat. Sift the flour and baking powder together, add to the creamed mixture, and continue beating until the dough comes together as a smooth paste. Put the dough into a piping bag fitted with a ⅜-inch round nozzle.
Pipe the dough into the rings to come about ⅛ inch high, then use a spoon dipped in hot water to level out the pastry. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden (but not too dark). Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before running a small sharp knife around the inside of each ring to release the biscuit. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack (be careful as they’re fragile) and leave to cool.
TO MAKE THE ITALIAN MERINGUE: Put the sugar into a pan with the water and place on a high heat. Bring to the soft-ball stage (245°F on a sugar thermometer), which will take about 10 minutes. To test without a thermometer, drop a tiny bit of sugar syrup into a bowl of very cold water. If it forms a soft sticky ball right away, it is ready.
While waiting for the sugar syrup, start whisking the egg whites with the salt and pepper in a glass or metal bowl. Do not whisk to soft peaks, just a light froth. Once the sugar syrup has reached the soft-ball stage, beat the egg whites on high speed at the same time as pouring the syrup onto them in a thin stream. (Don’t pour the syrup over the whisk, but down the side of the bowl.) Continue to whisk for 10 minutes or until the egg whites are glossy and stiff.
Spread the grapefruit curd on top of the biscuits followed by the meringue. Either place under a very hot broiler for a couple of minutes or use a blowtorch to brown. Serve immediately.
* Instead of six tartlets you can make one large tart in a 10-inch tart pan. The baking time will be 30–40 minutes.