This tart, a French version of the American lemon meringue pie, is the perfect marriage of sweet and tart. I love a robust lemon filling, and there is nothing half-hearted about this one, a rich lemon curd. Hidden beneath the filling is a thin layer of white chocolate, which is spread over the tart crust as soon as it comes out of the oven. The filling is topped with a soft, marshmallowy Swiss meringue that you can either pipe in dollops or spread in dramatic swirls over the filling, then toast to a golden brown, either with a torch or in the broiler.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (244 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (122 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons (127 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
- 1 large (50 grams) egg
- 2 ounces (57 grams) good quality white chocolate morsels or finely chopped white chocolate
Lemon Curd Filling
- 4 large (200 grams) eggs
- 4 large (74 grams) egg yolks (save the egg whites to use for the meringue)
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (160 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon (6 grams) finely grated lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
- 10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
Swiss Meringue Topping
- 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
- 1 ¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Finely grated lemon zest
Make the dough for the crust
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt.
- Put the butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Scatter the flour mixture over the butter and pulse a few times to combine. Add the egg and process just until the dough begins to form a mass. Turn the dough out a work surface and shape it into a disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Roll out the crust
- Lightly butter an 11-inch tart pan with a removeable bottom. Lightly flour a large work surface. Place the unwrapped dough disk on the floured surface and sprinkle some flour over it. Roll the dough from the center out in every direction, lightly flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. You want a round about 1/8 inch or slightly less thick and about 13 inches in diameter.
- Transfer the crust to the tart pan by rolling it loosely around the rolling pin and unrolling it carefully over the pan. Press the dough first into the bottom of the pan and then against the sides. Roll the pin over the top of the dough to remove the excess dough. Lightly prick the bottom of the tart shell at 1-inch intervals with a fork. Chill the tart shell for 30 minutes before baking.
Pre-bake the tart crust
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the tart shell with a piece of parchment paper or lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Place and tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Bake the crust for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Once you remove the tart shell from the oven, immediately scatter the white chocolate morsels or chopped white chocolate evenly over the bottom of the hot tart shell. Let stand for 1 minute to melt the chocolate, then, using a small offset metal spatula, spread it into an even layer, covering the bottom of the tart shell. Cool the tart crust on a wire rack while you make the filling.
Make the lemon curd filling
- Fill a medium saucepan one-third of the way with water and heat the water until it is barely simmering.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt until blended. Place the bowl over the saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until it is uniformly pale and thickened to the consistency of hollandaise sauce, about 8 minutes. Remove the bowl from over the saucepan of water and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. While the lemon mixture is still quite warm, whisk in the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until each piece is incorporated before adding the next. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. (You can prepare the tart up to this point up to a day in advance.) Loosely cover the top of the filling with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to pipe the meringue on top.
Make the meringue topping
- Make the meringue up to 6 hours before you are ready to serve the tart. Fill a medium saucepan one-third of the way with water and bring to a low simmer.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer, using a handheld whisk, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla extract. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water (the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl) and heat, whisking constantly (but not vigorously), until the mixture is hot to the touch, the sugar is dissolved, and it registers 160˚F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Place the bowl on the mixer stand and, using the whisk attachment, beat at medium-low speed (#2 on a KitchenAid mixer) for 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high (#6 speed) and whip for another 3 minutes. Increase the speed to high and whip for another 3 minutes, or until the whites form stiff peaks. Transfer the meringue to a disposable pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (such as Ateco #8) and pipe large dollops over the top of the lemon curd filling, covering it completely. Alternatively, you can scoop the meringue onto the filling and spread it into dramatic swirls and peaks using the back of a tablespoon.
- Use a handheld butane or propane torch to lightly brown the meringue. Alternatively, you can place the tart under a preheated broiler, with the oven rack about 6 to 8 inches from the heat element. Broil for 30 to 60 seconds, watching the meringue carefully, just until it is golden brown. Garnish the meringue with some finely grated lemon zest and serve the tart immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.