Strawberry Meringue Tart

One of the best things I learnt in Le Cordon Bleu was Tarts and Pies. I absolutely love the concept of a fruit filling in crisp, flaky crusts and topped with cream or meringue. The rolled out pastry dough can be a bit tricky and needs some practice, but this pressed-in crusts are very easy to work with. Just mix the ingredients into a dough and press in into a tart pan.

This almond pastry is baked blind to a crisp biscuit like consistency and then filled with strawberries. You can replace it with any fruit you like say apples, mangoes, canned blueberry etc. If you don’t like the meringue topping , it’s beautiful though – soft and pillowy, you can top it with whipping cream and skip the last step of baking the meringue.

This recipe has been adapted from a book called Desserts which I had picked up at a flea market, many years back.

Strawberry Meringue Tart in an almond pastry

Strawberry meringue tart

What you will need :

For the almond pastry :

  • 2/3 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup (about 100 grams) finely ground and sieved almonds
  • 1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Filling :

  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced or chopped (about 400 grams)
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar

Meringue topping :

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup castor sugar

Process of meringue

What to do :

  1. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch tart and a 5 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  2. To prepare the pastry, combine all the ingredients in a food processor or a mixer and process to form a stiff dough.
  3. Remove it on a plate and knead a couple of times till it all comes together.
  4. Firmly press it at the bottom and sides of the tart pan. Prick it all over with a fork and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Pr-heat oven to 170C and bake it for 20-25 minutes until form and golden. let it cool completely.
  6. To prepare the meringue, beat the egg whites till stiff peaks form. Gently beat in castor sugar.
  7. Combine strawberries and castor sugar.
  8. Now once the tart shell is completely cooled, pile spoonfuls of meringue on the edges of the tart. Fill the centre with the strawberry mixture. Now pile the remaining meringue on the top of the strawberries.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a preheated oven at 220C for 10-15 minutes, till the crust is firm and the top of meringue is browned.

Strawberry tart full

Notes :

  • If you are worried about the egg whites staying undercooked, you can bake it for another 5 minutes, till it get firmer.
  • I have used unbalanced almonds, directly powdered in the mixture. I prefer the nuttiness of un-blanched almonds.
  • I used a 9 inch shallow tart pan and a 5 inch smaller pan because I had leftover pastry. If you have a deeper pan, it will all fit into a 9 inch pan.

 

 

Strawberry Cream cheese Tart

For three years from the age of 20, I had a rigorous internship or articleship as we called in our Chartered accountancy course, based in my hometown Mumbai. It gave me several opportunities of travel all over India for audit including 2 months in Delhi each year. All of us interns, roughly in the same age group, we used to love it. It meant being away from home at client sponsored fancy hotels and visiting local tourist spots on the weekends. And at that age, partly because of ignorance and partly because of the courage youth provides, I was fearless, unabashed.

Once in Delhi, about 5 years back, in the midst of a very hectic working schedule, we interns needed a break. And all we could do was go for a late night movie post work. Of course our seniors were not happy with the idea, but nevertheless we went for the movie. 11pm to 2 am, in the freezing cold of January. Nothing happened, we were safely back in the hotel and it was just a movie night out.

We were thrilled at how we ignored what the seniors said and went for the movie, came back unscathed. But in hindsight it seems we were so stupid.

I remembered that night after watching the documentary India’s Daughter. That girl was gang raped in Delhi at 8.30 pm in a moving bus. And we were so foolish back then that the three of us walked backed from the movie theatre at goddamn 2 am. Was luck on our side? Yes. That must be the reason we returned safely.

I thought that the documentary was well made and it deserved to be seen, however shameful it makes us feel. A lot has been said and written about it and I have nothing more to add. But it makes me introspect my daily life and those of my friends, sisters and nieces. In this day and age, we women are not safe and it is prudent to be wise and act accordingly.

When I saw all the angst and long discussions about the rape incidents in India, it made me more worried about the short term. In the long term as further awareness gets created, we can hope to reduce such incidences, but for now, what else do we do but be careful? In principle I agree with liberal ideas of I will do what I want, but in reality it is not practical.

Somewhere it makes me sad that my subconscious has accepted the dangers because it means I have less energy or zeal to fight the negative elements. But pragmatism sets in as you grow older and now I want my young sister-in-law staying away from home to be safe. Even if it means she has to curtail her activities. I want my cousin to be conservatively dressed and not attract unwanted attention. At the same time time it makes me genuinely sad that I don’t have the guts to tell them ” Do as you wish, don’t be afraid of nothing in the world”, because the world is not so simple. Life is not in black and white.

In Paris when I used to come back home late from school, I used to get scared while walking back from the metro station, because there used to be a couple of drunkards on the streets and metro station. I once asked my host Danielle, if it was safe, and she replied; “Well just dont be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

That’s what it is. Wherever in the world, take care and dont be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And a little caution never hurts.

*******       *******       *******

And while the last of strawberries of the season are still in the market, I made this Strawberry Cream-cheese Tart from my blogger friend Saee’s Youtube stream MyJhola. It is a delightful dessert made effortlessly and the video on Youtube explains it very efficiently. I slightly tweaked the recipe to make it a tad bit sweeter and used chopped strawberries for that brilliant red color.

Strawberry tart

Strawberry Creamcheese Tart

What you will need :

  • 12-15 Digestive biscuits
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter
  • 225 gms or 8oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 2 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 10-12 strawberries, cleaned and cut into slices

What to do :

  1. Crumble the digestive biscuits and mix it with the butter. Pulse in the mixer a couple of times till there are no crumbs.
  2. Lightly butter a 8 inch springfoam pan and spread this mixture on the pan and press gently with your fingers. Refrigerate for half hour till it sets.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the cream cheese and add the strawberry jam and icing sugar.
  4. In another bowl, whip the cream to form soft peaks.
  5. Now carefully fold it into the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Take out the biscuit base and fill it with this cheese and cream mixture.
  7. Spread with a layer of sliced strawberries.
  8. Let it set in the fridge for half hour. Serve cold with some mint leaves.

Strawberry cream tart