Crisp pastry, quivering lemon, buoyant meringue — what more could the tart desire? Whipped cream.
In the immortal words of the SweeTarts candy heart: Be mine.
LEMON MERINGUE TART
Prep: 1 hour plus 2 hours rest and cool
Bake: 5 minutes
Makes: One 8-inch round tart, serves 8
Tart lemon curd, recipe follows
8-inch tart shell, recipe follows
Meringue, recipe follows
Whipped cream, recipe follows, optional
1. Bake: Pour lemon curd into tart shell. Bake at 350 degrees until just set (and still jiggly), 5-7 minutes. Cool. Chill.
2. Pipe: When ready to serve, scoop meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (or a zip-close plastic bag with a corner snipped off). Pipe meringue onto lemon tart. I like tall spires that resemble aliens, but suit yourself. If you like both meringue and whipped cream, leave room for the cream.
3. Brown: Using a kitchen torch, brown the meringue. If you like, pipe on whipped cream. Enjoy.
In a food processor, buzz together 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drop in 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up. Pulse until largest lumps are pea-sized. Drop in 4 to 5 tablespoons ice-cold water; pulse to damp clumps. Turn out, press into a disk and dust lightly with flour. Roll out pastry 1/8-inch thin. Fit into a lightly buttered 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll the rolling pin over the top, trimming away excess pastry. Chill 1 hour or more. Cover with parchment (crumple it first to make it pliable) and fill with dried beans. Bake in the lower third of the oven at 400 degrees, 20 minutes. Remove paper and beans. Bake until crisp and golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Let cool.
Tart lemon curd
In a large saucepan set over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter. Whisk in zest of 2 lemons, 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 14 tablespoons (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) sugar, 2 eggs, 4 egg yolks and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Press through a fine-mesh strainer. Let cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 4 egg whites, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 14 tablespoons (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) sugar. Set bowl into a pan of simmering water. Whisk until 165 degrees hot, about 5 minutes. Pull out pan, wipe dry and snap pan onto the mixer. Whip to beautiful, cool, glossy peaks, about 5 minutes.
Whip together 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract until soft peaks form.
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