But we did finally get a little taste of warmer weather last week. For about 3 days, temperatures got up into the 60s with blue skies. It was absolutely gorgeous! I even wore a dress to work and drove with the windows down! But of course, in true Ohio weather fashion, it snowed 2 days later. So here we are, back to overcast skies and winter coats again. The only bright spot in this endless drab—we’re still in prime citrus season!
Those little lemon tartlets had been staring me in the face from the cover of Baked (by Matt Lewis) for years now, so I knew I wanted to start there. I was a little scared making lemon curd for the first time, but it was actually fairly easy to make. (Other than the mess I made juicing the lemons… But my counter got a good lemony scrub down and my kitchen smelled great!) I didn’t have the amaretti cookies, liqueur, or the almonds for Baked’s tart shell, so I used Smitten Kitchen’s Unshrinkable Tart Shell again. (Which may indeed be unshrinkable, but by no means is it unbreakable. I knocked a whole side off it the first time and had to make another.) Topped with simple meringue, it was delicious! The perfect not-too-tart bite of sunshine. I imagine it’s what spring tastes like.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Baked by Matt Lewis
Makes one 9-inch tart
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons total) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt together until combined. Scatter pieces of butter over flour mixture and pulse until butter is coarsely cut in (about the size of a pea or smaller). (If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this by hand with a pastry cutter or two forks.) In a small bowl, beat the egg lightly to break up, and gradually add to the flour mixture, pulsing after each addition. Once the egg is added, process for about 10 seconds or until the mixture comes together to form clumps of dough. Turn out on a clean work surface and press gently together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about 2 hours before rolling.
2. Butter a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out chilled dough to a 12-inch round. Drape dough lightly around your rolling pin to help transfer to the prepared pan. Press into pan gently, sealing any cracks, and trim overhang to ½ inch. Fold overhang in to make sides double thick. Pierce crust all over with a fork.
**(I always skip the initial chilling and rolling steps completely, and simply press the clumps of dough from the food processor straight into my buttered tart pan. It’s easier than rolling out, but you’re probably sacrificing some of the flakiness of the tart shell because the butter starts to melt a bit from the heat of your hands while you’re trying to get it even. Maybe someday I’ll try out the rolling method and see just how much it differs.)**
3. Freeze the crust at least 30 minutes, up to overnight before baking.
4. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and press the foil onto the frozen shell, buttered side down. (If you have them, you can bake it with pie weights to keep the crust from puffing, but since it was frozen first, it’s not necessary.) Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Remove the foil. If the crust has puffed slightly, simply press it down gently with the back of a wooden spoon. (Don’t use your fingers! It’s hot!) Bake for another 10 minutes, until crust is firm and golden brown. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature before filling.
Meyer Lemon Curd:
¾ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (from about 5 Meyer lemons)
Grated zest of 2 lemons
2 large eggs
7 large egg yolks (keep the whites! You’ll use some of them for your meringue)
¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and the zest and let sit for about 10 minutes to soften the zest.
2. In a medium non-reactive bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until combined. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk until combined. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, not letting the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until the mixture has thickened, about 6 minutes. (It’ll look like pudding when it’s thickened enough.)
3. Remove the bowl from the pan and whisk in the butter until well combined. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer, discarding any solids. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd and allow to cool to room temperature while you make the meringue.
4 egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the eggs on medium until foamy. Add the pinch of cream of tartar and beat on high until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
To assemble the tart:
1. Once tart shell and lemon curd have cooled to room temperature, pour the curd into the tart shell, spreading evenly across the shell and smoothing with an offset spatula. Pile meringue on top, and spread to the edges (or almost the edge if you want the bright yellow lemon curd to show). Using the back of a spoon, make peaks in the meringue.
2. Preheat the oven broiler. Place filled tart with meringue on a baking sheet and place under broiler just until the tips of the meringue turn a golden brown color.
3. Tart is best the day it is made, but if you can’t finish it right away, cover it and put it in the fridge for up to 2 days. (Your meringue probably won’t look very pretty after the first day though…)
Wondering what to do with the other egg whites you didn’t use up for the meringue? Try some of these recipes!