A twist on classic citrus tarts, this blood orange tartlet recipe is a showstopping and elegant dessert recipe for two. These easy blood orange curd tarts with meringue topping and flaky almond pastry base are sure to be a delicious treat!
So every year blood oranges come into season and for a brief time they're easily found in my grocery store. Every year, I buy some and usually end up just squeezing the juice or eating them plain. But not this year! This year, I've decided to answer that question: what to make with blood orange?!
This recipe shares the makings of blood orange tartlets for two people. If you double the recipe, you can make one large 9" blood orange tart instead, following the same process.
Ingredients for Blood Orange Curd Tartlets
For the Tart Shells
- Flour - all purpose flour or plain flour will work in this recipe.
- Almond flour or finely ground almonds.
- Sugar - just a bit of caster sugar or superfine granulated to help sweeten and bind the crust.
- Salt - a pinch!
- Butter - this should be unsalted and well chilled. You can substitute with salted butter, but if you do so, leave out the additional salt in the recipe.
- Almond extract - my preferred variety is Nielsen-Massey Pure Almond Extract, but any good quality almond extract will work in this recipe.
- Water - cold tap water.
For the Filling
- Blood orange curd - you can make this yourself, following my Easy Blood Orange Curd Recipe, or buy store-bought. If you can't find blood orange curd, you can substitute with orange, passionfruit or lemon easily in this recipe.
For the Meringue Top
For the topping, you have some options.
Firstly, adding the meringue at all is entirely optional. You can serve these tarts without it and they'll still be delicious.
If you want to add a fluffy light Italian style meringue, you will need:
- Sugar - caster sugar or superfine granulated.
- Water - either plain tap water or follow my orange syrup substitution below.
- Egg whites - I used the egg whites leftover from making the curd from scratch. If you've bought curd pre-made, you'll still need egg whites to make this meringue.
Process for Making Tartlets
Well, the best bit of these tartlets is the fact that the key ingredient is already made: the blood orange curd.
You just need to make the pastry shell and the meringue (if using). And put it all together!
Making Flaky Almond Pastry
For the almond shortcrust pastry, stir all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl before rubbing in the butter as you would for a conventional pie crust. Then, add the almond extract followed by half a tablespoon of the cold water. Knead together with your hand and add more water if needed until the dough comes together.
Form a ball with the dough and wrap this with plastic wrap to chill for at least an hour (or up to three days).
Once thoroughly chilled, remove from the fridge and divide into two pieces. Roll each out to about ⅛" thick and use to line your tartlet cases. Press gently into the edges and allow to overhang slightly.
Use a fork to prick the crusts all over the base and sides, then line with parchment and baking beads to blind bake in a 350F oven for about 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and beads to continue baking for a further 15 minutes.
Tips for Almond Shortcrust
- This crust is extremely flaky and is easy to cut away excess after baking rather than before. Leaving it to overhang will help avoid shrinking in the tart cases as it blind bakes.
- Chill the dough again once it is lining the tartlet cases. Good pastry bakes best when well chilled.
- For blind baking, scrunching up the parchment makes it easier to fit into the shell and fill with baking beads or rice.
- Carefully cut and knock away excess pastry with a knife when the crusts come out of the oven and are still in their cases.
- You can remove the shells from the cases before or after filling. I prefer removing beforehand - they will be delicate, but it risks less mess overall if you drop one!
Filling Tartlet Shells with Curd
If making the curd fresh, you can make it while the tartlet shells are baking. As soon as it is thick enough to remove from the heat, you can pour it directly into the pastry shells.
Alternatively, if you made the curd in advance or are using store bought, simply give this a good stir before dolloping out into the tartlet shells and smoothing with a knife or offset spatula.
The light and fluffy Italian meringue topping is the perfect addition to the blood orange curd tart. It cuts the sharpness of the curd with a pillowy sweetness.
There are two options for this meringue - a straightforward, traditional Italian meringue, or an orange sugar syrup meringue (see below for details). Both have the same fundamental process.
In a saucepan, place your sugar and liquid (whether this is water alone or the orange syrup). Heat over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and then bring to a boil. Allow this to boil until the mixture reaches 240F (113C) on an instant read thermometer.
Meanwhile, you want to beat your egg whites to soft peaks in a bowl. You can do this in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or in a mixing bowl using a handheld electric mixer fitted with standard beaters.
When the syrup reaches temperature, slowly pour this down the side of the bowl into the eggs, while continuing to beat constantly. Once fully added, continue to whisk until the bowl feels cooler and the egg whites are stiff peaks.
Pipe onto the curd tarts. These can then be topped with additional decoration and served or chilled for dessert later.
Orange Meringue Alternative
If you want to add an extra special touch to these tarts, I'd recommend making a small batch of my candied orange slices. You can use some blood oranges to bring it all together!
The candied slices themselves offer a nice decoration to the tartlet. But, more importantly, once candied, you'll have plenty of leftover orange sugar syrup. One option for using this would be to substitute the water in this meringue to make an orange infused meringue.
If you want to try this - halve the amount of sugar and replace the water with the orange sugar syrup. Otherwise, follow the same process.
Blood orange almond tart is a great make ahead treat. These tartlets will keep for about 2 days in the refrigerator once assembled.
Personally, I would not recommend freezing these tartlets due to the meringue topping. Meringue is liable to absorb moisture during the defrosting process and many people find that these lose their light airy texture, becoming a bit rubbery.
If wanting to freeze, I would suggest freezing prior to making the meringue topping. Once the curd is set and the shells cool to room temperature, place these on a baking sheet or plate in the freezer to freeze for two hours until solid. Remove from the plate and add to a freezer safe container to return to the freezer. These will keep for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then top with fresh meringue for serving.
If you like these, check out some other elegant desserts for date night:
Blood Orange Tartlets
- 2 tartlet cases
- hand held electric beater
- instant read thermometer
Ingredients for Almond Tartlet Shells
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour or plain flour
- ¼ cup almond flour or finely ground almonds
- pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter chilled, cut into small pieces
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon water cold, plus extra if needed to bring dough togather
Ingredients for Filling
- ½ cup blood orange curd for ½ cup, use 1 quantity of my blood orange curd recipe
Ingredients for Meringue Topping
- 2 egg whites
- ½ cup superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- ¼ cup water see note
- Begin by placing the flour, almond flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir this together.
- Then add the cubes of chilled butter. Using your fingers, rub this into the flour mixture.
- Add the almond extract followed by about ½ tablespoon of chilled water. Stir together with a knife and then your hands, adding a little extra water until you are able to knead it together as a small ball of dough. (See note)
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to thoroughly chill. Meanwhile, you can make your blood orange curd if making from scratch.
- Once the dough has chilled, remove from the refrigerator. Removing the plastic wrap, divide the dough ball in half and gently knead into a smaller round. Roll each piece out on a floured work surface until about ⅛" thick (.25cm) and use these to line two 4" loose bottomed tartlet tins, allowing the dough to overhang the sides. Return to the refrigerator to chill while you preheat the oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan)
- When ready to bake, prick the dough all over the base and sides with a fork and line each tart with a piece of parchment paper weighted down by baking beans or rice.
- Place the tartlet shells in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the parchment paper and beans, return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes until lightly golden.
- Taking the blind baked tart shells out of the oven, carefully trim the overhanging edges and knock away excess flaky almond crust.
- Divide the blood orange curd between the two shells and smooth with a spatula. If the curd is fresh made, allow to cool.
- When ready to top with meringue, place the sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until the sugar syrup reaches 240°F (115C).
- While the syrup is heating, beat the egg whites in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer until they are foamy and reaching soft peak stage.
- When the syrup reaches temperature, remove from the heat and slowly steadily pour down the side of the bowl into the egg whites while continuing to beat.
- After emptying the syrup into the egg whites, beat until the egg whites are stiff peaks and the bowl has cooled to the touch.
- Dollop or pipe the meringue on top of the curd, ensuring that it reaches the edges of the crust. Chill for a couple of hours and serve with a piece of candied blood orange or some zest for decoration.