Lemon Meringue Tart

This tart is fresh, chic, and oh so classy.  A slightly chewy ginger snap crust is beautifully played off by an intense lemon curd, and the entirety is topped off with a billowy and almost bubbly meringue.  Besides tasting divine, this tart is also surprisingly easy (so long as you don’t burn the meringue, but we’ll get into that in a little bit).

So, first off, is the crust.  It is ridiculously easy and is accomplished with only two ingredients–ginger snaps and yoghurt.  With the ginger snaps being the main source of flavour for the crust, their quality is of the utmost importance.  I’m a sucker for Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps.  They are cruelly addictive, and are made with natural ingredients!  The idea of using yoghurt for the crust instead of butter came from Laurel’s Kitchen.  I’ve always enjoyed the traditional butter and cookie crumb crust, but the yoghurt instead of the butter makes a delightfully chewy crust once it has baked and cooled.  I’ve made the tart using both crusts, and the yoghurt crust is definitely my favourite.

This tart’s lemon curd is intense.  With such an absurdly thin layer, you might be tempted to double the recipe, but I wouldn’t recommend it until you try a single batch at least once.  The curd is bright and cool, and finished off with an egg yolk for a silky, rich touch.

And so, that leaves the meringue.  Ah, meringue!  Meringue really is quite simple provided that you follow two key rules.  First, you must clean all the dishes for the meringue with boiling hot water and plenty of soap to scrub away any specks of grease.  The slightest smear can taint your whites and destroy their fluffing abilities.  Second, to get the maximum volume from your whites let them come to room temperature.  And above all, watch the meringue like a hawk when you put it under the broiler.  It can go from pale golden to smoking in seconds.  Such was the case for me when I made this yesterday…

I’ve made this tart before, and I know plenty well to never leave things under the broiler unattended; but, you see, my hands were sticky.  They were sticky and I felt the need to at least rinse them off.  Well, I did this and it was already too late.  I pulled out the tart and it was black and it was smoking; no doubt in a few more seconds it would have been up in flames.  So, I let the meringue cool, peeled it off, stuck the tart sans meringue back in the fridge, and started the meringue process all over again.

And so it goes.

We all make mistakes sometimes, even if they really do suck.

But hey, at least there’s tart in the end!

Lemon Meringue Tart

Tart adapted from The New Vegetarian by Nicola Graimes; crust adapted from Laurel’s Kitchen

200 grams good quality ginger snaps*

3 tablespoons plain yoghurt

130 millilitres or 1/2 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons corn starch

55 grams unrefined cane sugar

1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

2 egg whites at room temperature, be sure they have absolutely no egg yolk traces in them**

a tiny pinch of salt

a tiny pinch of cream of tartar

45 grams unrefined cane sugar

Special tools:

One 24 cm or 9.5 inch tart pan

Place the racks in the centre of your oven and preheat to 350 F.  Place a tart dish on a cookie sheet, lightly grease with some butter, and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the ginger snaps until they become crumbs.  Dump the crumbs into a bowl and add in the yoghurt.  Mix thoroughly with a fork, the mixture will be quite moist.  Dump it into the tart dish and, using your finger tips, press into the shape of the tart pan.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes–until the edges are slightly crisp and it is very fragrant.  The crust will puff slightly.  Pull out and slide the tart pan onto a cooling rack to cool.

While the crust is cooling, begin the lemon curd.  In a small dish, combine the corn starch and a few tablespoons of the lemon juice until thin and clump-free.  Dump the corn starch slurry, the remaining lemon juice, and the 55 grams of sugar into a small saucepan.  Whisk together and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer, stirring, for about 2 minutes, or until thick.  Remove from heat.  Next temper your egg yolk by whisking in the hot lemon curd a spoonful at a time until the yolk is runny and warm.  Be sure to stir continually so that none of the egg cooks.  Pour the tempered egg yolk into the remaining curd and stir to combine.  Pour the curd into the crust (it’s alright if the crust is still warm) and tilt to coat the entire bottom.  Place in the fridge and allow to chill for at least one hour.

Preheat your broiler to high and leave the rack in the centre of your oven.  In the bowl of a mixer, pour in your egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar.  Beat until foamy and stiff peaks form.  On high speed, gradually pour in 45 grams of sugar.  Transfer the raw meringue into a piping bag and pipe onto your tart.  Smooth and fluff the meringue with the back of a spoon to look soft and billowy.  Place the tart on a cookie sheet and slide it into the oven.  Broil for 15-60 seconds, until lightly browned.  Be careful because this can go quickly; check the tart every few seconds to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before serving.  The tart is best served the day it is made.

*I absolutely adore Trader Joe’s triple ginger snaps (dried, fresh, and crystalized ginger!).  Plus, they are made with natural ingredients.

**Unfortunately, you can’t use pasteurized eggs from a carton.  The pasteurization destroys the white’s voluminous qualities.

Makes one 24 cm tart

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