Meyer lemons are in the markets right now. I don’t know why this is exactly because citrus seasons confuse me. What I do know is that Meyer lemons have a wonderful, less tart flavor than their “other” lemon counterparts and make a wonderful base for tarts. I nabbed the curd recipe from Epicurious and it’s wonderful, if a touch sweet, and produces a very silky and soft curd that just melts in your mouth.
I had a bit of trouble with my Swiss (cooked) meringue this time around, having difficulty whipping it up to stiff peaks. It’s been too long now and I can’t remember why this happened. Instead, I ended up with this thick and sticky marshmallow stuff that crisped up nicely on the outside and was soft and gooey in the center. I can’t say that I’m displeased with this, but I was hoping for something pipeable.
I used the vanilla sugar I made with the leftover pods from the Russian Tea Cakes I made and it was absolutely delicious. Only three ingredients, but easily the best meringue we’ve ever had in this household. The fact that I cheated with the tart shells isn’t even noticeable!
This recipe would probably be more suited for a large (12″) tart made proper because of its lack of thickeners/starches/gelatin to give everything a firm consistency, but it still holds enough that you can eat it as a tart without gooing all over yourself and being a disgrace to the family. If you’re whatever concerned about such issues potentially arising though, make and blind bake a tart shell, fill it with the curd and top with all the meringue instead!
- 12 premade (sorry) tart shells or one 12″ tart
- 3-4 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced (to yield approximately 2 teaspoons of zest and 1/2 cup juice)
- 1/2 (100g) cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 stick (125g) unsalted butter, cut into large cubes
- 100g (about 4) egg whites
- 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Bake tart shells according to the package directions and allow to cool completely.
- In a heat-resistant bowl combine lemon juice, zest, sugar and eggs and whisk together until smooth. Add the butter chunks and place over a bain marie/double boiler, whisking constantly until it becomes thick, smooth and glossy and a thermometer registers 160 degrees.
- Remove from the heat and continue to whisk until cooled to room temperature. Force the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl to remove any lumps, then cover with a piece of plastic wrap directly against its surface and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours to set.
- In a clean, preferably copper bowl, whisk the egg whites together until they become foamy, then whisk in the sugar. Place over a bain marie/double boiler and, using an electric mixer, whip on medium-low speed until pale and glossy, then on high speed until stiff peaks form. At that point, add the vanilla.
- Preheat the oven broiler or grab your brulee torch.
- Fill the tart shells with the lemon curd and top with the prepared meringue. You can get fancy with this and pipe rosettes on top, if you wish. Line all the tarts on a baking sheet and place 6″ from the broiler until the tops are browned, removing them as necessary if they brown unevenly. Or, get to work with the torch, and toast the tops of each of them individually. Allow to cool before serving.
If you do not have caster sugar, you can simply pulse an equivalent quantity of white sugar in a food processor or grind it in a mortar and pestle until very fine.
Instead of adding vanilla extract, you could instead use vanilla sugar. Place a vanilla bean (a pod whose seeds have been used for another recipe is perfect for this, so it does not get wasted!) in an airtight container with enough sugar to cover and let stand for several days, shaking occasionally to break up any clumps, then use the sugar as you would normally in baking, in coffee, or what have you.