Happy Pi Day, my friends! Today we are making meringue topped tartlets with a brown-butter crust rather than typical pie shell. The Brown-Butter crust is first par-baked and then filled with luscious citrus custards which is topped with a heaping mound of fluffy meringue. After a few moments back in the heat we soon have a golden-brown swirls atop the perfect single-serving dessert. We use egg yolks in the curd and egg whites in the meringue. A frugal and practical solution for divided eggs, but more importantly, a tastefully balanced dessert with the bold brightness of winter citrus and the sweetness of vanilla-scented meringue.
Let's talk Pavlovas. Pavlova is a light and crisp meringue cake with a crunchy shell, they are often garnished with whipped cream and fresh fruit. From outwards appearances you may easily mistake Pavlova for Meringue, however, they have vastly different interior textures. A meringue is made from egg white and sugar, they are typically very dry and have crunchy centers. Pavlova have a similar base but also include cornstarch and vinegar which results in a a slightly squishy interior, almost marshmallow-like consistency at their center.
With a wonderfully pillow-soft interior beneath their crunchy shell, pavlova are a multi-textured phenomena. Paired with fresh orange zest, bitter blood orange curd, fresh fruit, and a cool dollop of fresh whipped cream - these are clouds from an orange-scented heaven.
Citrus is at it's finest in the depths of winter, a welcome blast of tart, bright edible sunshine. Here is Southern California we are lucky (ahem, spoiled) to have access to a dizzying variety of locally grown produce throughout the year, but even here in this coastal paradise, we too must follow the seasons when it comes to Meyer Lemons & Blood Oranges. These elusive winter gems seem to pop-up overnight and disappear just as quickly.
Gather a bag (or two) of these fine fruits while they are still abundant and make yourself a winter treat: Meyer Lemon Curd & Blood Orange Curd. Dolloped onto yogurt, spooned directly into happy mouths, baked into bars, meringue pies or tarts, poured over pavlovas... the possibilities go on and on. Point being, you want this, you need this, so let's get cooking shall we?