This tart is the cousin of the Lemon Meringue Pie, an all American classic. The lemon is intense, smooth and bracing, which is the perfect contrast to the pillowy brown sugar meringue that floats on top. They sit on an almond pastry crust that is tender and not overly sweet. The filling is simply made with just lemon juice, egg yolks and sugar, no need for cornstarch or sweetened condensed milk. The brown sugar in the meringue gives it more personality and a deeper flavor, which goes so well with the sourness of the lemons.
A lemon tart is a bit untraditional for the holidays, but I find it a wonderful addition to a Christmas buffet. It looks festive and is a nice contrast to the Bûche de Noël, a Christmas Stollen, Panettone and all those cookies you have been baking.
Almond Tart Dough:
1/4 cup (30 grams) Almond Meal/Flour
1 1/4 cups (190 grams) bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) confectioners’ sugar
10 tablespoons soft butter
1 large egg yolk
12 large yolks
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Brown Sugar Meringue:
3/4 cups large egg whites
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (C&H or other cane sugar seems to make a sturdier meringue)
You can immediately press the dough into a 9 to 10-inch Tart Pan with Removable Bottom or form the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Roll out between a Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat (or wax paper) and a sheet of plastic wrap.
Use the silpat to pick up the dough and drape it over the tart pan. The dough will certainly break apart and you will have to press it into the pan, but by rolling it out you will have a uniform thickness.
Scrape off the excess dough from the top of the pan. Freeze the dough for about 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees.
Fill the tart shell with foil and baking beans or Pie Weights. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or the crust looks golden on the edge. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the tart shell is golden on the bottom.
Make the lemon curd: Put the lemon sugar, yolks, juice, zest, butter and salt in a large bowl.
Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water to form a double boiler. Stir the lemon curd with a Heat Resistant Spatula until the curd is thickened, about 10+ minutes.
The curd will stay put when you run your finger through it on the spatula.
Strain the curd through a Fine Mesh Strainer, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Once the curd is cool you can fill the tart shell.
Make the brown sugar meringue: In the clean bowl of a stand mixer stir together the egg whites, brown sugar and salt.
Stir the mixture over a double boiler until the sugar is melted and there is no more grit when you rub the mixture between your fingers.
Place it on the mixer and whip until the mixture is room temperature and fluffy.
Fill a large Pastry Bag, fitted with a Large Round Tip. If you are not used to working with a pastry bag you may want to rest it in a tall glass as you fill it, make sure the top is folded down so the outside of the bag doesn’t get sticky.
Once the bag is filled twist the top of the bag so that the meringue doesn’t come out of the top.
cover the lemon curd with the meringue and then use a Spatula to make ripples in the surface.
Once you are happy with the design then use a blow torch with a Trigger Start to toast the meringue. You can also do this under a broiler, but you have less control and the crust may get toasted as well.
The toasted meringue smells and tastes like a marshmallow that has been in a camp fire.
Use a very thin knife that has been dipped in a pitcher of hot water to cut the meringue. Wipe the blade clean after each cut.
Enjoy and Happy holidays!!