Food Grammar Police Rules be darned! These tarts are amazing, yummy, fantastic... They are delicious. They are buttery, lemony, and creamy. This dessert has earned my personal best in bursting with flavor and is now one of my favorite desserts I've ever made. Seriously.
Recently, I noticed that our Meyer lemon tree, was laden with lots of fruit, and I needed to pick them and use them immediately. That is never a problem, because Meyer lemons are perfect for baking. They have an exquisite balance of sweet and tart. I usually make my fool-proof lemon curd recipe, that uses the whole egg. Then, I got to thinking about making a lemon meringue pie-- which I had not made in many, many years. That thought process began to morph into an obsession that I was determined to make a lemon meringue pie.
I've posted many recipes for pies, in my recipe index. I usually begin by saying that I'm not the biggest fan of shortening based pie crusts. (I also know that I'm in the minority here.) I do, however, prefer a French Pâte Brisée crust, which is all butter and a little bit of sugar-- very similar to a shortbread. Using a food processor makes this a whole lot easier. With this pâte brisée recipe, I also added lemon zest and a little bit of pure vanilla extract.
4.75 Inch Round Tart/Quiche Pans. I did roll out the dough, cut individual circles and then pressed them into each pan.
I docked them, to prevent too much puffing during baking. Then, I placed them into the freezer for about 30 minutes so that I could also reduce the "shrinkage" of the tart shells, while they baked.
NOTE: I baked these tart shells one day ahead of making the final dessert.
Now, to make the filling...
The classic lemon meringue pie filling is made with cornstarch, to thicken it. Since I wanted to use a lemon curd (which is thickened with butter), I had to come up with a different lemon curd recipe that separates the egg yolks from the egg whites. That way I could reserve the egg whites to make a meringue. (This lemon curd recipe comes from Martha Stewart.com)
Because tart pans have a removable bottom, they slipped right out, and nothing stuck. I think that tart crusts looks so fancy, and like they took a lot of work to do. (That can be your own trade secret.)
An off-set spatula is my go-to tool, for smoothing out the tart filling.
Last, but not least, comes the meringue. NOTE: If you are not a fan of meringue, you could swap out fresh whipped cream. Your loss, my gain! I would suggest making my other lemon curd recipe that uses the whole egg, so you don't have to deal with leftover egg whites (which can easily be frozen for future use).
piping bag. I love how fancy piping looks, but you can always plop the meringue on top and create decorate swirls with an off-set spatula or knife.
blow torch for making Crème brûlée-- and this was my first time using it.
Well, that was easy-- and fun!
I'm not kidding when I tell you that I was chomping at the bit to sink my teeth into this dessert.
TASTING NOTES: I truly believe that there is a dance that we bakers do, when we taste something that is exquisite. I was dancing, twirling and relishing the textures and flavors of this dessert. It was all that I had imagined and more-- the crust was delicate and buttery, with a lovely note of vanilla and sugar. The lemon curd was tart, but not to the point of making me pucker. The lemon meringue was creamy, and sweet and sticky, and pulled the whole dessert into one perfect package. Why in the world would someone say that they don't like meringue? !
I'm truly smitten with this tart, and I will definitely make this one again and again. I even wrote down how I made the crust to use for other tarts. Since I try to be honest with all of my readers, I will admit that I ate two... okay, three of these tarts. Yes, I ate half of the total batch over a period of 2 days.
Know what? I don't feel any guilt nor regrets. Neither will you.
These tarts are not only a perfect dessert to make for someone special (pssssssst, Valentine's Day is just around the corner), but they are also pretty and the camera just loves them. Can you tell?
Here's the printable recipe card. I hope that you try making this recipe. You won't be sorry that you did. Oh! It's important that I give credit to Martha Stewart.com for the Pâte Brisée crust, and lemon curd recipe.