The nights are drawing in and the clocks have gone back which means winter is well on its way. First though we have Halloween to look forward to. Personally, this isn’t really a big deal for me – I’m more of a festive, ‘I love Christmas’ kind of girl. A bit like Elf really, without the costume.
However some people do love it and go all out, so I thought I’d have some fun with a couple of recipes. Which reminds me, I totally still need to find some kind of Halloween outfit – not a lover of fancy dress. I’ll post another later in the week too. Perfect for you to make for your parties, or to indulge in alone to make your self feel better about giving lots of sweets away to ‘trick or treaters’ (I usually prefer eating the treat sized bags of chocolates instead of handing them out, greedy I know).
This recipe is hugely inspired by the Meringue Girls and their new book ‘Everything Sweet’ which is available to buy here on Amazon. It is stunning, both the recipes and the photography, shot by another inspiration, David Loftus.
I’ve used their meringue recipe and made their little pumpkin meringue kisses to top my crisp pastry tartlets which are filled with lime curd – the most tasty ‘goo’ you’ll be exposed to this Halloween. For the pastry I used a delicious recipe from Good Food Magazine by Cassie Best – it’s crisp, sweet, and easy to work with, for all those who may be a little frightened of making pastry. Alternatively, you could use shop bought to save on party preparation.
I use half of Cassie’s pastry for this recipe and you can freeze the rest for another time.
225g cold unsalted butter, diced
350g plain flour
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp water
Meringues – Meringue Girls Recipe
4 egg whites
Caster sugar – twice the amount of the weight of the egg whites
Juice and zest of 3 limes
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
- Start by making the pastry. I used a food processor for this. Put the butter and flower in the food processor with a pinch of salt and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. If you want to do it by hand, rub together with your fingertips. Add the sugar, and whizz or stir again to combine.
2. Add the egg yolk and water and blitz again until it forms large clumps. If the mixture seems too dry, add more water a tsp at a time, but no more than 3 tsp in total.
3. Tip this onto a work surface and knead briefly until it comes together to form a smooth dough. Avoid overworking as this will result in a tough pastry. Flatten, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins or longer.
4. When ready, roll out half of the pastry to a few mm thick, and using a pastry cutter cut to your desired size. I used a petit four tin so cut my pastry to fill these, but you can make bigger tarts if you wish.
5. Line this with some greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or rice/lentils. Bake in the oven at 180c/160c fan for around 12 minutes. Remove the rice and paper, and bake for another few minutes until golden and crisp. We wouldn’t want any soggy bottoms. Leave to cool, until ready to use.
6. To make the meringues, weigh 4 egg whites, and then in a separate bowl weigh out double the amount of caster sugar. Put the sugar in a roasting tin lined with greaseproof paper and place in a preheated oven at 200c/180c fan for five minutes. The edges of the sugar will start to melt. Remove from the oven.
7. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer start whisking the egg whites in a grease free, clean bowl. Whisk slowly to make small bubbles, and then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
8. Turn the oven down to 100c and turn the mixer up to full speed. Add the hot sugar spoonful by spoonful until fully incorporated. Once all the sugar is added, whisk on high speed for 5-7 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. The mixture should feel smooth between your fingers, with no grains of sugar.
9. Pipe the meringues, using orange food colouring. See this lovely video for help. You want your meringue bases to be the size of your tart shells so they fit on top. Place in the oven to cook for around 45 minutes – 1 hour until the meringues lift off the paper.
10. Meanwhile, make the lime curd. Put the lime zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a little saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat.
11. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then add to the saucepan and whisk. Return the pan to a low heat and whisk constantly as the curd starts to thicken. Do not stop whisking – we don’t want scrambled eggs. Once the curd thickens and releases a bubble or two, remove from the heat. I added a bit of green food colouring for extra halloween fun but this is optional. Place the curd in a disposable piping bag, leave to cool and then refrigerate.
12. To assemble, fill your tartlet cases with some of the lime curd – using a piping bag is easiest but you can always use a teaspoon. You can paint faces on your meringues with black food colouring and a clean paintbrush. Then top your tarts with these. Serve and enjoy!
The tangy lime curd complements the sweet meringue pumpkin which adds an element of fun that children can help with on half term next week, and will go down a treat at a party, or simply as a little afternoon treat with tea or coffee. Stay tuned for another ‘spooktacular’ recipe.
A girl with an appetite for all things creative,