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One of my favorite desserts has always been a lemon meringue pie, in fact, I do believe it was the first pie my mother taught me to bake. With that said, I am a lover of lemons, so when I came across Darjeeling Dreams recipe for a lemon tart, I immediately gave it a go. Upon taking my first bite, I was more than impressed, the rich creamy texture and buttery dough makes this a perfect dessert that not only cleanses the palette, but leaves you satisfied. Serve with a cup of hot coffee or tea, and your evening will be complete.
Meyer’s Lemon Tart
*1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and frozen for 1+ hour
*1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
*1 tbsp sugar
*1/2 tsp salt
*2-4 tsp ice water
*1/2 cup lemon juice (approximately 3.5 small Meyer lemons)
*2 tbsp lemon zest
*4 egg yolks
*2 whole eggs
*1/2 cup sugar
*pinch of salt
*1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
+ 2 tbsp of pine nuts or beans or coffee beans for baking tart shell
*3 large egg whites
*1 tsp cream of tartar
*1/2 cup granulated sugar
1. Make pastry dough: I use a food processor (mixing flour, sugar and salt first, then adding the butter, then the binder – water), but another option is to mix by hand: flour, sugar, and salt on your work surface. Blend in the butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.
2. Gradually drizzle 2 tbsp ice water over mixture while gently mixing with a fork. Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring until just incorporated, then test again. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.
3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
4. While dough is chilling, make lemon curd. Bring a medium/large saucepan (or double boiler) of water to a simmer. Suspend a heatproof bowl over this, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Combine lemon juice and zest, egg yolks, eggs, and sugar in the bowl. Stir constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula (7 to 10 minutes). Heat should be about medium to medium-high.
5. Remove from heat, add cubes of butter. In order to guarantee a very fine finish – using a fine mesh strainer, pour the curd through, removing any large pieces of zest, etc. Refrigerate, placing cellophane on top to make sure the top doesn’t harden while cooling.
6. Make tart: Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare your 10-inch tart pan: line the bottom with a circular piece of parchment paper and butter the sides.
7. When you are ready to roll out the dough, make sure your countertop (or rolling surface) is very very clean, and flour lightly. Flour the rolling pin as well, and reserve a handful of flour. Roll out ball as thinly and evenly as possible. Spread three of the cold butter cubes onto one half. Fold dough in half, and roll out again, keeping the shape as circular and even in thickness as possible, making a 13-inch circle. Fit dough into prepped tart pan: press dough against side of pan and leave 1/4 inch above sides.
8. Line the inside of the shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or with dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, or until side is set. Remove foil and weights. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden.
9. Meringue: While the crust is baking, make the meringue. In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, with a hand mixer or by hand in a copper mixing bowl with a whisk, whisk together the egg whites at medium speed for 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar, and mix at an increased speed, medium-high, for about 1 minute more. Then begin to add the sugar (keep the speed of the whisking the same as the tartar, in small increments. Once all of the sugar has been added, keep whisking (about 5-7 minutes more) until the egg whites are “whisked into submission”, stiff and glossy.
10. If you would like to add a touch of style to your tart or mini tarts, use a piping bag, a nozzle fitting that you desire, and fill the bag with the meringue.
11. Remove the tart; and turn up the oven temperature to 475°f. Fill tart shell with lemon curd, smoothing top. Then pipe or place the meringue on top per your desired look. Bake for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until the meringue tips are gently golden-brown (my image below baked the meringue a little too much, but it still tasted wonderfully).
12. Cool thoroughly, about half an hour, before serving.
Key Things To Keep In Mind:
*Use a tart pan that is in two pieces so that you have a beautiful final presentation without having to worry about taking it out of the pan. (click here to view one from Williams Sonoma)
*Using the fine meshed strainer makes an amazing difference in the finish of the dish. It looks much more professional and smooth.
*Stir constantly during the 7-10 minutes you are waiting for the curd to thickening so that it doesn’t burn.
*You’ll notice in the above image that the crust cracked. Don’t worry about it! It happened when I was transferring it to the tart pedestal, but it tasted delicious. The buttery crust with the fresh, bright lemon will delight and a crack will quickly be forgotten. 🙂
~make tartlets instead of one large tart (this recipe makes four)~