This lemon meringue tart has a crunchy almond tart shell that’s filled with creamy lemon curd and buried beneath clouds of pillowy meringue.
This stunning and unconventional creation that pastry chef Michel Richard generously shared with us may not be a traditional lemon meringue pie, but we’re not complaining. As for those pretty pipings of meringue, fear not, they’re far from requisite. As he explained to us, you can instead smooth the meringue flat or, if you’re feeling somewhat inspired, shape it into dervish-like swoops and swirls. Go on, make it your own, whatever your pleasure.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Lemon Meringue Tart FAQs
What can I use as a substitute for almonds?
If there’s a tree-nut allergen concern here, we absolutely recommend using an alternate crust altogether. Never, never take a chance where food allergies are an issue. If that is the case, you can use a simple pie crust or pâte sablée, and carry on with the recipe as directed. If you just don’t care for almonds, you can use cashews or pecans – but keep in mind that adding a different type of nut than the chef called for will change the overall flavor of your tart a bit. It’ll still be delicious, though.
How should I store leftover lemon meringue tart?
Loosely wrap any leftover tart with foil or plastic wrap. It will keep well, refrigerated, for two to three days.
Lemon Meringue Tart
- 9-inch (23-cm) tart pan with removable bottom
For the lemon curd
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice strained (from 4 to 5 large lemons)
- 8 large egg yolks at room temperature (separate 4 of the whites in a separate bowl for the meringue)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter in pieces, at room temperature
For the almond tart shell
- 1/4 cup whole blanched almonds
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter in pieces, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
For the meringue
- 4 large egg whites at room temperature
- Pinch salt
- Pinch cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
Make the lemon curd
- Fill a pot or bottom of a double boiler with several inches of water and bring to a simmer. In a medium heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler, whisk the lemon juice, egg yolks, and sugar. Place the lemon mixture over but not touching the simmering water. Continue whisking constantly until the mixture becomes the consistency of thick hollandaise sauce, coats the back of a spoon, and registers about 175°F (79°C) on a candy thermometer, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your pan and the exact temperature of your burner.
☞TESTER TIP: Add the butter, a couple pieces at a time, and whisk until the sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat and immediately press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the lemon cream. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until chilled through, at least 6 hours. (You can refrigerate the lemon curd for up to 2 days.)
Make the almond tart shell
- In a food processor, grind the almonds with the sugar and the salt until finely chopped. Add the butter and process until smooth.
☞TESTER TIP: Add the egg and process until incorporated. Add 1/3 cup flour and mix just until incorporated. Add the remaining flour in 2 batches, processing just until barely incorporated. The dough will be very soft. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour. (You can refrigerate the dough for up to 1 day.)
- Butter a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll the dough out between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap into a 10-inch circle. (If the dough has been chilled for more than an hour, let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling it out.)
☞TESTER TIP: Remove the top sheet of plastic and invert the dough into the prepared pan. Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
- Uncover the tart pan, line it with a large sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and fill it with pie weights or beans. Bake until the tart shell is firm and set, about 15 minutes.
☞TESTER TIP: Remove the beans and paper and prick the bottom of the tart shell with the tines of a fork so it doesn’t puff. Continue to bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let the tart shell cool in the pan on a wire rack. (The tart shell can be left at room temperature for up to several hours.)
Make the meringue
- Beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the meringue is stiff but not dry.
- Adjust the oven temperature to 400°F (204°C).
- Fill the tart shell with the chilled lemon curd. If using a piping bag, pipe small flourishes to cover the surface of the filling. If not using a piping bag, spoon the meringue on top of the lemon curd, using a spatula to completely cover the curd with the meringue, making certain to cover the edge of the tart where the curd meets the tart shell.
- Bake the tart until the meringue begins to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Watch it carefully so it doesn't scorch. Immediately remove the sides of the tart pan, cut the tart into wedges, and transfer to your best dessert plates. Serve immediately.
☞TESTER TIP: Wondering how to store a lemon meringue tart? Don't wait at all before serving. But you could make the tart shell and the lemon cream filling a day ahead and refrigerate them both separately, which will make assembly the next day pretty darn easy.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I made this lemon meringue tart for two reasons: I still have a lot of Meyer lemons on my tree, and I thought almonds in the tart dough sounded wonderful. I wasn’t disappointed. The flavors worked very well together.
I made the tart and the lemon curd a day ahead, which made the assembly the next day pretty easy than. Making this tart is a bit time-consuming and involves quite a few steps, but it’s not overly complicated and definitely worth the effort. The whole process of making this tart is straightforward and the times throughout the recipe are pretty accurate.
The lemon curd was a tiny bit runny when I sliced the tart. Not much, just weeping out the tart a little after the leftover tart sat for a few minutes. I didn’t use a tart shell with a removable bottom, as I don’t have one, but it worked fine with a traditional pie plate.
I made one big tart this time, but can imagine doing little personal tarts, too.
This is an outstanding lemon tart. The combination of the almond crust with the lemon curd and meringue makes for a delicate and light dessert that has just the right balance of sweet and tart. It’s well worth all of the steps of creating the curd and waiting for it to cool, making the crust, blind-baking it, making the meringue, and assembling the tart.
Since the curd needs to be chilled for at least 6 hours, it’s probably best to make the curd a day in advance. Even the crust can be made and baked a day in advance if that fits your schedule best. The only “tweak” I’d make to the recipe is the time it takes to thicken the curd mixture; 10 minutes of stirring is much more realistic than 5 minutes. Also, as noted, the bowl should be over but not touching the water.
Lemon tart. Sour, sweet, crisp, and light. Is there anything more heavenly? I think not. This tart has a lovely almond crust that brings a certain nuttiness to the dessert that’s delicious.
I’d suggest that you be careful when preparing the lemon curd and keep the bowl above the bubbling hot water. Watch the thickness; 5 minutes is about right. One other little tip: when separating the yolks from the whites for the curd, put 4 whites directly into a separate bowl, as it’s much easier than trying to divide them all afterward for the meringue.
I made my curd and crust the day before and then put it all together moments before my guests arrived. My only complaint would be that a 9-inch tart is really quite small; I think doubling this recipe for a 13-inch tart would be much better. Leftovers for breakfast if you’re lucky. Besides, who could resist taking another piece after the oohs and aahs when dessert hits the table?
Originally published March 29, 2013