Pucker up. Creamy grapefruit curd, a tart and refreshing zing. Buttery flaky crust. Burnt meringue, light and airy. Crunchy salty pistachios.
February is right around the corner and all I can think about is baking something pink. I found some inspiration with grapefruit tarts, with their cheerful rosy hue. So I went for it! I juiced a large pomelo and a couple ruby red grapefruits until my measuring cup was filled to the brim. The pink flesh and pink-a-licious liquid got me super pumped for Valentines Day.
The yellow zest and grainy sugar were pressed between my fingers , releasing fragrant bitter grapefruit oil into the sugar. As I vigorously whisked the curd, it became clear that there was no pink happening in this recipe.
While it may not look like the bright flesh of a grapefruit, the curd is tart and with a sweet finish. It’s vibrant and acidic, just bursting with flavor.
I used my favorite flaky and buttery pie crust with this teeny tiny tarts. It’s easily blended in a food processor and left to rest in the fridge until the curd is cooked. The most important thing to remember with pie crusts is the more you mess with it, the tougher it will become. If you want tender flaky crust, barely touch it. There is no kneading or pounding, this dough is extremely different from bread dough.
Meringue is supposed to be easy peasy, but for some reason it’s my achilles heel. Egg white after egg white, still no fluff. No peaks. I tried it twice with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Finally I sucked it up and found a damn recipe. I followed it to a “T” and actually got meringue. I used a pastry bag to decorate the tarts with a few dollops of meringue. A kitchen torch came in handy to toast those little babies. Don’t have one? Use the broiler.
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup +3 tablespoons cold solid vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 2 cups grapefruit juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons grapefruit zest
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 4 tablespoons sugar, preferably superfine
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- crushed pistachios, for serving
- In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt until combined. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle the water on top and pulse just until the dough comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 times. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a big circle about 1/6 inch thick. Use a knife to cut out circle of dough that are about a half inch wider than the bottom of your mini tart pans. Press the dough circles into mini tart pans and cut any excess from the top. Use a fork to poke holes in the bottoms of the dough, and place uncooked tarts into the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven 350 degrees. Bake the shells for about 15 minutes, or until set and slightly golden. Pull out of oven and let cool.
- Prepare the curd: Add the grapefruit juice to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until reduced by half, then remove from the heat to cool.
- In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and grapefruit zest. Use your fingers to massage the zest into the sugar.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitting with paddle attachment, or with an electric hand mixer, cream the sugar and zest mixture with the butter until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, eggs and salt and mix until combined. Add the cooled, reduced grapefruit juice and mix well.
- Add the mixture to a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, usually about 10-15 minutes. Just keep whisking. The curd is ready when it will coat the back of a wooden spoon, and is the thickness of warm pudding.
- Transfer the curd to a bowl and refrigerate until cooled.
- To assemble to tarts, divide the curd evenly among the cooked tart shells. Place in a 13×9 inch pan and cover so that the plastic wrap does NOT touch the top of the tarts, and refrigerate until chilled, preferably overnight.
- Prepare Meringue: In a mixing bowl — preferably stainless steel or glass — beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt on low speed of an electric mixer until they are frothy.
- Add the cream of tartar and increase the mixer speed to medium; continue beating until the whites are fluffy, with large bubbles forming around the edges.
- With the mixer running, add the sugar, a few teaspoons at a time, or until all of the sugar is incorporated. Continue beating until the peaks are firm but still glossy. Add the vanilla.
- Use a scapula to put the meringue in a pastry bag fitted with any tip of your choice. Decorate the tarts with blobs on meringue. Toast with a kitchen torch or put it under the oven broiler.
- Sprinkle with pistachios and serve!