Orange Meringue Tarts, Gluten Free

We are big fans of orange. Not the color. The flavor.

This rich little orange pastry cream tart topped with meringue or whipped cream is a great dessert – in small portions. It is a riff on the lemon cream that I’ve used in other recipes like lemon meringue cupcakes here. And it is a technique I learned from Dorie Greenspan’s Lemon-lemon cream recipe.

The tart shell is a simple 3-2-1 crust filled with the easy to prepare orange pastry cream. The tart is then topped with a dollop of meringue or whipped cream. The orange pastry cream is actually pretty simple to prepare but it takes a food processor or blender. I broke my Waring Blender the first time I made the lemon pastry cream. And this time, my new Breville Blender got a might bit annoyed and stopped to catch its breath every minute. I used the food processor at one point and like a good workout buddy – it was up to the task and then some.

We enjoyed these orange tarts. But I did miss that orange and chocolate combination (like in these chocolate orange pavlova bowls) so next time I might grate some bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate into the bottom of the cooled tart shell and then spoon in the orange pastry cream.

Just saying. There’s always room for chocolate in my house.

Orange Meringue Tarts, Gluten Free
Pastry cream is a treat that can come in many flavors. This technique from Dorie Greenspan is usually quite popular in preparing the lemon pastry cream, but orange is a great alternative. It is not a light dessert, but it is quite tasty and a little bit won't hurt. Dress it up with a meringue topping or use whipped cream. Both taste great.
Orange Pastry Cream
  • 160 grams white sugar (about ¾ cup)
  • zest of two large oranges (don't use the pith)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 oz. or about ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 172 grams (1.5 sticks) of unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into cubes
Tart Crust (3-2-1)
  • 300 grams GF flour (125 g superfine brown rice flour, 100 g superfine white rice flour, 75 g tapioca flour/starch)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 115 grams unsalted butter ice-cold, cut into cubes (1 stick)
  • 85 grams spectrum vegetable shortening in small pieces
  • 100 grams ice-cold (filtered if possible) water (scant)
Meringue Topping
  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 oz. sugar (about ¼ cup)
Pastry Cream
  1. Good advice from Dorie Greenspan- have the thermometer, strainer and a blender (or food processor) ready. Cut up the soft butter and set aside.
  2. In a bowl that will be used as a double boiler (think bowl on top of a simmering pot of water - but don't let the water touch the bowl) pour in the sugar. Zest the oranges and using your fingers, work the zest into the sugar so that it turns orange and feels gooey. Let it set for about 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes - in the same bowl, whisk in the eggs and the orange juice. Cook over the double boiler until the mixture reaches 180 degrees. That actually will take less time than you think - and you have to keep whisking so that it remains smooth. It should start to thicken slightly. It will foam up first, then turn a little creamy and then start to thicken like sauce (not like pudding). Splash in the Grand Marnier and keep stirring. Once it reaches 180 or a little higher, strain the mixture into the blender or food processor. Squish every last bit you can get through the strainer and you will notice you are leaving behind the zest and any egg bits that scrambled. A good thing!
  4. As soon as the mixture sitting in the blender reaches about 140 degrees (it won't take but a few minutes) turn on the blender or food processor to high and start sending butter pieces down the chute a little at a time. My blender likes to operate at one minute intervals and then turns itself off (thank you, blender idiot). Let it rest for just about 30 seconds and turn it back on high and keep going until all the butter is incorporated and it has whizzed for about 3-4 minutes in total.
  5. Spoon into a container. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the stuff so you don't get the "pudding skin" thing. Cover the container. Refrigerate overnight for best results.
  6. When you are putting the mixture into the baked tart shells, do NOT stir it up first - it turns to liquid. Just spoon it in and then refrigerate the tarts for a few hours. It'll all be good.
Tart Crust (3-2-1)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place 6-8 small tart shell pans on a baking sheet (the kind with removable bottoms are best).
  2. Weigh out the flours and add in the salt and sugar. Whisk to combine and drop into a food processor. Give it one twirl on pulse just to mix. Add in the butter and spectrum shortening and pulse until the mixture looks like very large coarse crumbs. Add in the ice water (no ice) while the food processor is running just until the mixture forms a ball - you may need less or slightly more water depending on many factors. The hint is to stop as soon as it forms a ball. Go slow with the liquids - you can keep adding a little bit at a time but you can't take it out! Slap the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and if you can refrigerate that overnight as well.
  3. Divide dough into as many pieces as you have tart pans. Roll between layers of plastic wrap and place in each tart pan and trim excess. If the dough sticks, use a bit of tapioca starch on the plastic wrap (both sides). You can also skip the roll business altogether and pat into the shells. The tart will look slightly more rustic than if you had rolled it.
  4. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes and then bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Rotate pan and bake at 325 for about 20-25 minutes more or just until they are golden and done. Cool completely before filling.
Meringue Topping and Assembly
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks start to form. Slowly add the sugar and whip until the peaks are like little snowy mountains. Place on top of the chilled tarts and use either a torch (I like my blowtorch) or the broiler, brown the top slightly and quickly. Refrigerate if the pastry cream becomes too soft.
  2. Alternatively, top with whipped cream. Add a little bit of candied orange peel if you have some on hand.


  1. Ok. I’m a sucker for gluten free tarts. I love this. Your photo is also amazing. Can’t wait to try it.


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