This is my second Daring Bakers challenge recipe, and I’m happy to say it was another success! I’ve never tasted meringue before, much less tried my hand at making it. It smells like angel cake when it’s baking and has a very similar flavor. The lemon curd was perfect – not too tart, not to eggy. All this on top of a crust that tastes like shortbread.
- 3/4 cup cold butter; cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 5 egg yolks, beaten
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a log. Slice the log into 6 equal pieces. Dust each slice lightly with flour and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 20 minutes.
- Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll each disk out to a diameter of about 6 inches. (Note: If you have a board with guides for pie sizes, there should be a small tart size indicated.)
- Line 6 small tart pans with the dough, trimming away the excess. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.
- Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crusts. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled tarts, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Add decorative peaks or swirls.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
- Cool on a rack. If desired, remove from the tin before serving.
- Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.
The recipe can be easily adapted for a single large tart, a pie, “free-form” or tinless tarts, or even made in muffin cups.