A few weeks ago it suddenly dawned on me: the end of the world was approaching and I had no plans! This didn’t seem right so I decided to throw a small party on December 21, 2012 to perish in style with my best friends. Before I could utter the word “apocalypse” this small party evolved into a large shindig with over 20 of my nearest and dearest crammed into the downstairs of our modest townhouse. And of course I went completely overboard with the food. One of the many desserts I prepared was my spiced candied orange peel. Since this recipe only uses the peels and I didn’t want to waste the fruit, I also made orange curd tarts.
These Orange Meringue Tarts with Grand Marnier look pretty fancy but I saved a lot of time by purchasing pre-made phyllo shells from the grocery store. Phyllo shells aren’t difficult to make from scratch but there’s no shame in cutting corners when you’re preparing a lot of food. You can even buy pre-made curd for this recipe (but I think the homemade stuff is much tastier!)
I’m happy to say that we all survived the apocalypse! And the party was a blast. So tell me… did you do anything to celebrate surviving the Mayan apocalypse?
- 45 mini phyllo shells
- 2 whole eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- juice of half a lemon
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
- optional: 2 drops orange food coloring
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon Karo corn syrup
- 3 egg whites
- 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
- In a medium saucepan, whisk eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until smooth. Whisk the corn starch together with a bit of the orange juice to create a slurry.
- Whisk the orange juice, lemon juice and slurry into the egg mixture.
- Add the food coloring if using.
- Continue to whisk over medium heat until thick, 10-15 minutes. It should be the consistency of pudding. Make sure the whisk hits the bottom of the pot to keep the bottom from burning. This is less likely to happen if you use a heavy bottom saucepan.
- Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in pieces of the butter.
- Move the curd to a bowl and allow to chill in the refrigerator. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Store extra curd in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pushed directly against the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
- In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until they form a stiff peak.
- While the egg whites are whisking, add the sugar, water and corn syrup to a medium saucepan and cover.
- Bring the sugar to a boil. Remove the lid from the pan once steam has formed on the sides (this will prevent the sugar from crystalizing.) Insert a candy thermometer and cook the sugar until it reaches 235-240 degrees F, also known as the soft ball stage.
- Once the egg whites have reaches a stiff peak, turn the speed to low and carefully pour the sugar syrup down the inside of the mixer and into the meringue. Don't pour too quickly or the eggs will cook.
- Whip the meringue on high speed until it comes back to room temperature. Slowly add the Grand Marnier, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Scoop approximately 1 teaspoon of orange curd into each fillo cup. Use a piping bag with a tip or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off to pipe the Italian meringue on top of each tart. Use a culinary torch to brulee the top of each tart.