Sunday, September 30, 2012

Grapefruit and Pepper Meringue Tartlets

I remember sitting in the airport alone two years ago and waiting to board a plane. I was heartbroken and scared. "This is it," I thought "this is the rest of my life." I had with me one small suitcase and a tiny amount of money in my savings account to get me through the first few months at pastry school until I could find a job. I had worked hard all year in order to be able to do start a new little life, a brave new adventure. Everything was going to come together in the next two years. I had planned to graduate top of my pastry class, meet a nice boy and go on to maybe start my own business, or make a fortune doing something amazing and creative.

I had pegged a lot of hope on these two years, and what a crazy amazing two years they have been. I'm only one term off graduating pastry school, and at times I've been feeling nearly as scared as I was that day I was about to board the plane. Somedays it has all seemed a bit like a strange dream.
(From sneaky drinks with one of my favourites, at my favourite bar.)

I'm so proud of the life I have made for myself here, full of wonderful, interesting people, and a job which I enjoy. However I cant help but think that maybe I expected a wee bit too much out of those two years......maybe I expected myself to be fully 'grown up' by twenty two........and well I'm not. And the elusive 'price charming' has yet to appear, ever though I have seen glimpses of him in several people, unfortunately the 'real deal' is yet to show up.

So what next? I'm really not so very sure. I've been looking into the costing of attending the top pastry school in the world, which is in paris (of course) and if I stumble upon $52,000 thats where I will be heading (honestly, if you attend that place your set for life in the pastry world........all the cool kids in the hospitality world go there.....alas.) Until then though I'm just going to start applying for jobs and baking cakes at home, and dreaming up some big dreams, because you never know what might happen.

Three years ago when my mum asked me if I could do anything with my life what would I do I said it would be going to pastry school, but I thought it would be impossible, and here I am. If someone asked me today I would tell them my ideal plan would be to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, it feels impossible, but maybe not!

Grapefruit curd and black pepper meringue tarts

Yes it sounds strange.....but its delicious. The recipe is from the beautiful Rachel Khoo

You will need:

For the curd:

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 1 egg, plus one egg yolk whisked together
  • 1 heaped table spoon of corn flour
  • 50g of soft butter chopped
For the bace: 
  • 75g of butter softened
  • 75g of caster sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g of plain flour
  • 2tsp of baking powder
Italian Meringue:
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp of cracked black pepper
What to do:
  1. First off start with the curd as it will need some time to cool in the fridge. Squeeze the grapefruit so that you have 90ml. Also finely zest the fruit.
  2. Mix together the juice, zest, egg, sugar and cornflour. Place in a pot over low heat, and cook continually stirring. Don't cook too high or leave the pot otherwise it may scramble. It will be cooked when the mix coats the back of a spoon. Take of the heat and slowly stir in the cubes of butter, stirring until dissolved.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180
  4. To make the biscuit bace, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer,until thick and pail. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder and zest, and mix together until it resembles a smooth paste. 
  6. In Rachels she pipes the mixture into 6 metal desert rings that have been greased. Firstly you pipe the bace of the rings (in a circle like snail shape) and then pipe one ring up around the sides so it forms a sort of cup shape. I however don't own any desert rings so I did the same thing but in a muffin tin. I Oiled and lined the muffin tin with baking paper so that they would come out easily. If those instructions don't make much sense check out this tutorial as it explains it all very perfectly.
  7. Place the piped bases in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  8. Lastly the meringue......don't be intimidated! Place the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a pot on low heat and stir until dissolved. Turn to high heat and boil the mixture until it reaches 118 on a sugar thermometer. I actually don't have one of these, and in pastry school we learnt to gage the temperature in which its ready by placing a fork in the mixture, withdrawing it, and then blowing between the prongs of the fork. If a bubble formed (like when you blew bubbles with a little bubble blower as a kid) then it would be ready. This however is kinda dangerous as sugar can really really burn your skin when its at that temperature. Another way to tell is if you drop some of the mixture into really cold water and a sticky ball forms that means its ready. Either way, find a system that works for you. 
  9. Just before the sugar mix reaches this point, start beating together you egg whites and pepper with an electric beater until they are bubbly and a little fluffy.
  10. Drizzle the sugar mixture into a running electric beater, and then continue to beat the mixture until it is glossy and thick.
  11. To assemble the desert, place some curd in each bace, and spoon some meringue on top. Use a knife, or an offset pallet knife to smooth the top.
  12. Brulee the tops of the tarts with a blow torch.....or if you're like me and yours blew up (or you just don't have one.) Place them under the grill for a minute or so, or until the tops get a little golden. 

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