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Korzinki: Russian Jam Tarts

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Korzinki are Russian tartlets with a cookie crust and piled high with Italian meringue. They are usually filled with jam, but you can sometimes find them filled with caramel, chocolate, nuts, or lemon curd. Korzinki get their name because the tartlets resemble little baskets.

garnishing korzinki with freeze-dried raspberries
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Italian Meringue

Italian meringue is made by beating a hot sugar syrup into the whipping egg whites. The hot syrup partially cooks the egg whites making it more stable and allows the meringue to hold up longer than Swiss or French meringue. Italian meringue is used for desserts where the meringue is eaten without cooking, usually as a filling or a topping. It’s the type of meringue you would use for a lemon tart and it’s also the base for making turrón.

Tips for Making Italian Meringue

  • Because of the boiling sugar syrup, it’s really important to read through the recipe and prepare everything you need before starting. It’s not easy to pause when the syrup comes to temperature, and the meringue requires constant whipping.
  • To get maximum volume and expansion, use fresh, room-temperature egg whites and ensure the bowl and whisk are clean of any grease.
  • Most of the sugar is made into a syrup, but some is beaten directly with the egg whites. Sugar helps stabilize the foam and adds flavor. During mixing, the sugar actually delays the foaming process, but adds stability during baking. It’s best to start whipping the egg whites without sugar to begin foaming, then gradually mix in the sugar.
  • With this small quantity, the syrup won’t take very long to reach the right temperature. Start beating the egg white as soon as you start cooking the sugar. Then you won’t fumble with the hot syrup while trying to get the egg white to soft peaks.
  • When whisking the syrup into the egg white, try your best to avoid pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl or onto the beaters. The beaters might whip the hot syrup out to the sides of the bowl. The sides of the bowl will cool down and harden the syrup, meaning less gets incorporated into the egg white, and more of a mess to clean later.
  • After adding the syrup, it’s okay to pause the mixer and check how the meringue is doing. When you pull the whisk out of the bowl, the peak should stand up straight. The meringue should be smooth and glossy. If the peak doesn’t stand straight up, continue to whisk on high speed.
  • Once the meringue has reached stiff peaks, lower the speed of the mixer to medium and continue to beat until the meringue has cooled.
korzinki russian jam tarts on a wooden table
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Ingredients

Yields six to eight 10cm (4-inch) tartlets.

MetricCups
SHORTCRUST PASTRY:
200g unsalted butter
85g confectioners’ sugar
Yolk from 1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

240g plain flour


ITALIAN MERINGUE:
150g sugar
60ml water

Egg whites from 3 large eggs (about 100g)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

50g sugar


FILLING:
6-8 tablespoons jam
SHORTCRUST PASTRY:
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Yolk from 1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour


ITALIAN MERINGUE:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Egg whites from 3 large eggs (about 100g)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup sugar


FILLING:
6-8 tablespoons jam

Shortcrust Pastry

1. Mix the wet ingredients:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a rubber spatula, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, and salt, and mix on low speed just until smooth.

2. Add the flour:

Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed just until incorporated. As soon as the dough comes together, stop mixing or the pastry will lose its delicate, short texture.

shortcrust pastry dough in a stand mixer
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3. Rest and chill:

Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven:

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).

5. Roll out the dough:

Try to work quickly to prevent the dough from warming up. As it warms it begins to stick and can be hard to work with.

Unwrap the dough, dust it with flour, and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll to 1/8-inch (3-4mm) thick, rolling from the center outward in all directions. Lift and rotate a bit after every few strokes and dust with flour as needed to discourage sticking.

Cut six to eight 13cm (5-inch) circles. You can use a pastry cutter or even an overturned bowl to cut out the circles.

6. Line the tart shells:

Carefully transfer the dough into 10cm (4-inch) tartlet pans with removable bottoms. If the dough sticks to the work surface, you can use an offset spatula to carefully lift it.

Gently press the dough into place without stretching the dough or the sides will shrink while it bakes. Trim the edges with a sharp knife.

shortcrust pastry in a tartlet pans on a wooden table
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If you have trouble rolling out the dough and lining the tart shells, you can simply press the dough into the molds. I tried both ways, and they turned out just fine.

7. Bake the shells:

Bake the tart shells in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the pastry is light golden brown.

8. Cool:

Let the tart shells cool completely before filling.

stack of shortcrust pastry shells
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Italian Meringue

1. Make the syrup:

Place 150g (3/4 cup) sugar and 60ml (1/4 cup) water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until it reaches 115°C (240°F).

2. Beat the egg whites:

Place the egg whites and vanilla extract in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the eggs on medium speed until frothy, then gradually add the sugar and continue to beat to soft peaks.

Soft peaks cling to the whisk, but barely hold their form.

3. Pour in the syrup:

When the syrup reaches 115°C (240°F), pour the syrup in a steady stream while continuing to beat the egg whites.

If possible, avoid pouring the syrup on the whisk or the sides of the bowl. (The whisk will whip the hot syrup around the bowl, and the syrup stuck to the sides of the bowl will harden, rather than mixing into the nougat.)

pouring syrup into beating egg whites
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4. Whip until cool:

Continue to whip, now on high speed, until stiff peaks form. Then beat on medium speed until cool.

Stiff peaks stand straight up when you lift the whisk.

italian meringue on a whisk
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Assemble the Tarts

1. Fill the tarts with jam:

Fill each tartlet shell with about 1 tablespoon of jam.

filling tartlet shells with raspberry jam
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2. Top with meringue:

Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with a 1cm (1/2-inch) tip. Pipe a tall swirl of meringue on each tartlet.

korzinki topped with italian meringue
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Storage:

Korzinki should be kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve. They keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.

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