Serves: Makes 8 tartlets
- 8 ounces thawed shredded phyllo
- 1 recipe Lemon Curd
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons sugar, plus 10 tablespoons (4½ ounces) for the meringue
- 4 large egg whites
Make and bake the tartlet shells: Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the lower third. Lightly coat the muffin cups with melted butter, oil, or high-heat canola-oil spray. Place the phyllo in the medium bowl and use your hands to gently separate the fluff of strands, discarding any hard pieces or clumps of dough that refuse to separate. Pour the melted butter over the phyllo and sprinkle the 2 tablespoons sugar over the top. Toss gently with your hands until the phyllo is evenly coated with the butter and sugar.
Divide the buttered phyllo into 14 equal portions. Press 1 portion into each buttered muffin cup. Press firmly on the phyllo to compact the pastry and mold it to make room for the filling. (You'll have 2 portions left over-if you like, spread out on a small parchment-lined baking sheet and bake after the cups are finished as yummy snacks for the chef and any helpers.)
Bake the shells for 17 to 20 minutes, until the edges and bottoms are golden brown. The centers will still be light, but will crisp upon cooling. If the entire shell is golden brown, the phyllo will taste bitter. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Fill the shells: Remove the phyllo shells from the pan and set on the baking sheet. Place a generous spoonful of lemon curd in the center of each tartlet shell, mounding it slightly. (You will use about two-thirds of the lemon curd-save the rest for spreading on toast, as a topping for fresh berries, or enjoying on the extra baked phyllo.) Refrigerate the filled shells on the baking sheet until the meringue is ready to pipe.
Make the meringue: Bring an inch of water to a boil in the bottom of the double boiler. Place the egg whites and 10 tablespoons of sugar in the top of the double boiler off the heat. Set on top of the simmering water and whisk constantly (not vigorously, just enough to keep the whites moving) for 4 to 5 minutes, until the egg whites are hot to the touch and the mixture reaches 160°F on the instant-read thermometer (the mixture will look frothy, but not whipped). Remove the whites from the heat each time you test their temperature. When they are on the heat, keep whisking, as they may scramble. If that happens, there is no recourse but to begin again, so watch carefully.
Transfer the hot egg whites to the bowl of the stand mixer. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl. Whip on high speed until the whites have cooled to room temperature, increased in volume, and resemble marshmallow fluff. Spoon the meringue into the pastry bag. Pipe a mound of meringue onto each tartlet, starting at the outside edge of the tartlet and circling inward, then upward, covering the entire surface.
Toast the meringue: Be sure your tartlets are evenly spaced on the baking sheet and that nothing nearby might catch fire. Ignite your torch and lightly graze the meringue of each tartlet with the tip of the flame, rotating the baking sheet to toast all sides. The meringue will brown instantly, so move quickly; don't hold the flame in one place for long. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time. Note: To make measuring easier, the recipe calls for half a box of shredded phyllo, but you'll have more than you need to fill 12 muffin cups. Just bake this extra phyllo alongside and enjoy a delicious snack while you're working. The remaining half of the package can be wrapped in plastic, returned to the box, and refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.
Storing: The tartlets are at their best the same day they are assembled, but will hold in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.