1 1/4 cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour
Scant 1/3 cup (30 grams) almond meal (ground almonds)
2/3 cup (70 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt
5 tablespoons (70 grams) cold unsalted butter, diced
3 large cold egg yolks (52 grams)
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon (5 grams) freshly grated lemon zest (outer yellow skin)
3 large egg whites (90 grams), at room temperature
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 grams) cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure vanilla extract
Almond Pastry: Sift the flour with the almond meal, confectioners sugar, baking powder, and salt. Place in the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. (Can also use a hand mixer). Add the chunks of cold butter and beat on medium low speed until the mixture is mealy (grainy with no visible pieces of butter). Add the cold egg yolks and seeds from the vanilla bean (if using) and beat on low speed until the dough comes together (it will be yellow in color).
Place the pastry onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least six hours (the pastry can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for up to three months). After the pastry has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 11 inch (28 cm) round. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll.) Place the round of pastry on a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes (to firm up the pastry which makes it easier to place into the tart ring (pan)). Then gently place the round into an 8 or 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart ring (pan). Never pull the pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it into the tart ring (pan)). Then press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. With a sharp knife cut excess pastry from top of tart pan. Then with a thumb up movement, again press pastry into creases of pan. Place the tart pan on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover, and place in the refrigerator while you preheat your oven.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Prick bottom of pastry with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the pastry from puffing up as it bakes). Line unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or foil. Fill the tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake the crust for about 25 - 30 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Place on a wire rack, remove parchment paper and pie weights, and let cool completely.
For Lemon Curd: In a stainless steel bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Place over a saucepan of simmering water, and cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in color and quite thick (like a hollandaise sauce or sour cream) (175 degrees F or 79 degrees C on a thermometer). This will take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Whisk the butter into the mixture until the lemon curd is smooth and creamy. Add the lemon zest. Immediately pour the lemon curd into the baked and cooled crust and smooth the top.
Meringue: In a heatproof bowl (preferably stainless steel) whisk the egg whites with the sugar and cream of tartar. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and, whisking or stirring constantly, heat the egg whites until the sugar has melted and the mixture is hot (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C as this is the temperature that kills the risk of salmonella). Remove from heat, wipe any moisture from the bottom of your bowl, and transfer the egg whites to your mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment (can use a hand mixer). Beat the whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Beat in the vanilla extract. Using two spoons, place large spoonfuls of the meringue on top of the filling. Gently press down on the meringue to remove any air bubbles. If desired, make swirls in the meringue with the back of your spoon.
Then place the tart under a hot broiler (or you can use a hand held propane torch) until the meringue has browned. Watch carefully as it can burn very quickly. Serve or you can place it, uncovered, in the refrigerator until serving time if you prefer a chilled tart. This tart is definitely at its best the day it's made. But leftovers can be covered loosely with a piece of foil and stored overnight.
Serves about 8 to 10 people.
This Lemon Meringue Tart is very similar to the Lemon Curd Tart recipe on the site except it is topped with a billowy sweet meringue. Most would agree that there are few desserts this irresistible; that combination of a sweet and crisp almond pastry crust with a lemon filling that's wonderfully tart and tangy, finished off with a sweet meringue.
So what exactly is the difference between a Lemon Meringue Tart and a Lemon Meringue Pie besides the obvious difference that one uses a tart pan and the other a pie pan? Well, for one thing a Lemon Meringue Pie uses a lemon filling (or custard) which contains little or no butter and uses cornstarch or flour for thickening. A Lemon Meringue Tart, on the other hand, is filled with lemon curd which does not contain cornstarch or flour and contains more lemon juice and zest which gives the curd a sharper lemon flavor. A lemon curd also contains butter which gives it a smooth and creamy texture.
Nevertheless, they are both delicious and both have that same pitfall, the problem of a 'weeping' meringue. That is, beads of moisture that form between the baked meringue and the filling, causing the meringue to slip away from the filling. One reason for 'weeping' is undercooking the meringue. I find the best solution is to use a Swiss Meringue which doesn't need to be baked in the oven. It is different than just whipping the egg whites and sugar in a bowl. Instead the egg whites and sugar are first heated over a saucepan of simmering water which dissolves the sugar and heats the egg whites until very warm. I do recommend using a candy thermometer to ensure the egg whites reach 160 degrees F (71 degrees C) which is the temperature needed to kill salmonella. Once that is done the egg whites are simply whipped to stiff peaks, placed on the filling, and then all you need to do is brown the meringue either under a hot broiler or with a propane hand torch.