I scan the dessert table at the garden party for my favourite – lemon meringue pie. Excellent, there’s raspberry pavlova too! I wonder if I can have some of each… Now, how am I going to cut some with this blunt cake slice whilst juggling my glass of Prosecco? Then I’ll have to attempt elegance while eating from a limp paper plate with an ineffectual plastic fork, and try not to lose my drink in the process.
Who needs that stress when you can eat a whole tiny pie or pavlova in one delicious mouthful, no cutlery required, while pretending you’re a giant?
You can make these as easy or as ‘from scratch’ as you fancy. Buy pastry cases, buy the lemon curd, even buy a tub or mini meringues if you like. Or make it all by hand and glow with pride as people gasp at your pretty, delicate desserts. Don’t worry if they don’t looks perfect. The meringues may crack a little and your pastry might crumble. It doesn’t matter. They will look homemade and still taste delicious and you’ll be so much more satisfied than the person who brought the frozen prawn ring. You can take that to the bank.
This makes approximately 30 tiny pies and 30 mini pavlovas, but quantities depend on the size of your trays and the daintiness of your piping. You can do most of the work ahead of time and just assemble when you need to. The meringues and pastry cases keep well in a tin for several days and the curd will keep in the fridge for at least a week.
Bitesized raspberry and strawberry pavlovas
For the meringue (for both the pavlovas and pies):
- 3 large egg whites (room temperature and not a speck of yolk in sight)
- 170g white caster sugar
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- Line 3 baking trays with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 120C
- In a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks – don’t over-beat at this stage
- Add the cream of tartar
- Very gradually add spoonfuls of sugar, whilst still whisking on full speed – this should take around 10 minutes, so take care not to rush as the sugar needs time to dissolve and make the mix glossy and thick
- Put the meringue mixture into a piping bag with a star tip
- For your pies, pipe swirly slightly smaller than your pastry cases (they grow a little as they cook)
- For the pavlova nests, pipe a 40cm circle then continue to swirl up two layers around the edges to create walls
- Place in the oven and immediately turn it down to 100C for around 50-60 minutes until crisp
- Leave them in the oven with the door slightly ajar for an hour until fully dried out and cool.
For the pavlova filling:
- 1 carton of whipping cream
- 1 punnet of raspberries
- 1 punnet of small strawberries
- A few mint leaves
- Softly whip the whipping cream
- Fill the meringue nests with a spoonful of cream
- Top each one with a raspberry or a strawberry and a sprig of mint.
For the meringue pie pastry cases
- 250g plain flour
- 50g icing sugar
- 125g softened butter, cubed
- 45g lard, cubed (or use all butter if you prefer)
- 1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp milk
- Rub the butter and lard into the flour and icing sugar (use a good processor if you have one)
- Gradually add the egg/milk until the pastry starts to form a ball (you may not need it all)
- Wrap in cling film and child for 30 minutes
- Roll out to the thickness of a pound coin on a lightly floured surface
- Cut into disks with a cookie cutter to fit a mini muffin tin or fairy cake tin
- Place strips of foil into each mould to help lift them out
- Chill pastry in the fridge while the oven heats up to 190C
- Place each pastry disc into the tray, pressing lightly into the edges
- Bake for around 8 minutes until golden
- Cool on a rack.
For the meringue pie lemon and lime curd
(Use a jar of shop-bought lemon curd if you want to skip this part)
- 2 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (approx.. 2-3 lemons)
- 60ml freshly squeezed lime juice (approx.. 2-3 limes)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 lime
- 200g caster sugar
- 85g softened butter, cubed
- Lightly whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon and lime juice and zest
- Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water
- Stir constantly with a silicone spatula for 10 minutes until it thickens to the consistency of runny custard
- Take off the heat and pour through a sieve to remove the zest
- Whisk in the butter
- Pour into a clean jar and pop in the fridge to set.