Lemon Meringue Tart
We have landed in LA. It has been a rough and crazy couple weeks but we are officially LA residents. I don't think it has hit me yet because I am just so busy. Between my 36 hour trip last week to speak at the Samsung event space and a top secret baking cookbook I am helping to write, I don't know up from down. Which is good and bad. On the one hand it is good because there hasn't been time to really process that we are in a new city trying to make new friends and find new places to eat, things to do. But bad because one day in a couple months I am going to wake up and realize I no longer live in the Bay Area. But I guess denial is good right?
Since life is borderline spinning out of control, the one thing that is keeping me grounded is cooking. Well baking. I know that is such a weird comment but it seems like even thought there is a hurricane around me, being in the kitchen is my quiet controlled little area. Deep down inside I am a control freak and baking plays directly into that part of my craziness. So as the world was spinning I decided to make a lemon tart with toasted meringue and everything immediately got better.
As we move into summer and stone fruit and berries start to make their appearance, desserts are just naturally going to go there, but for me, the best kind of dessert is a lemon dessert. I have no interest in chocolate desserts and yes I do love a good old fashioned pie, I can't ever pass up a lemony dessert on the menu.
I know that this dessert looks scary. It is not, I was having a moment where I wanted to be super creative and pretend I was a pastry chef in some fancy restaurant. But the recipe does not call for that and to be honest it doesn't make the recipe taste any better.
Here are some tips to the recipe. Make your tart shell the day before and let it cool completely. If you have baked before, you know that when you bake a tart shell, it tends to shrink when you bake it. The key is to pop in the freezer for about 30 minutes before baking then line the tart pan with foil and pie weights (or dried beans). Also this lemon curd is made on the stove top instead of baked in the shell. You will have a little extra and just save it in the fridge and use it on everything from toast to granola to ice cream. Lastly if you don't want to make the meringue, just omit it. The recipe will still taste delicious even without the meringue. Oh and just ignore the edible flowers. That was a moment of weakness at the grocery store, but they sure are pretty right?
Lemon Meringue Tart
For the tart dough
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Tbs. water
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tbs. hazelnut or almond flour (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 1 stick butter, cold and cut into cubes
For the lemon curd
- 3 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cups lemon juice
- zest of two lemons
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
For the meringue
- 4 eggs whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
To make the tart dough:
In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, vanilla extract and water. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine the flour, sugar, hazelnut flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas, about 10 pulses. Add in egg yolk mixture and pulse until the dough comes together.
Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 375F.
On a well floured surface, roll out tart dough. Using the rolling pin, wrap the dough around the pin and transfer to a 9" tart pan. Gently press the dough into the pan and with a small pairing knife, trim the edges. Freeze tart for 30 minutes. Line the tart with foil and top with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake tart shell for 15 minutes, remove foil and continue cooking for about 3 to 4 minutes or until top of the tart shell is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
To make the lemon curd:
Fill a medium size pot with 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. In heatproof bowl combine eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Place bowl on top of simmer water and whisk lemon mixture until thick about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in butter.
Pour lemon curd into pie shell and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
When ready to serve make the meringue topping:
Make the frosting by combining egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using an oven mitt, place bowl over a stove burner. Turn onto medium heat and carefully whisk egg mixture over medium heat until egg whites are hot, about 4 minutes. (Whisk continuously or the eggs whites will cook) Remove from stove top, place on stand mixture and add vanilla. With a whisk attachment whip egg mixture until it becomes white and fluffy and stiff peaks are formed, about 5 -6 minutes. Spread or pipe mixture on top of lemon tart and toast slightly with a kitchen torch.