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 plumes 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
LC Culinary Artistry Note
Pastry chef and all-around good-natured guy Michel Richard let loose with some fanciful flourishes when he created this lemon meringue tart. And we’re not just talking ’bout the recipe below. He’s also responsible for the charmingly illustrated rendering above. Sorta stands to reason that a chef’s artistry not be limited to the kitchen, don’t you think?
Lemon Meringue Tart
- Quick Glance
- 1 H
- 1 H, 30 M
- Serves 8
Special Equipment: 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom
- For the lemon cream
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained (from 4 to 5 large lemons)
- 8 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) 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 (4 ounces) 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 cream
- 1. Fill a pot or bottom of a double boiler with several inches of water and bring to a simmer. Whisk the lemon juice, egg yolks, and sugar in the top of a double boiler or in a medium heatproof bowl. Place the lemon mixture over but not touching the simmering water and let it sit while you 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. 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 cream for up to 2 days.)
- Make the almond tart shell
- 2. Grind the almonds with the sugar and the salt in a food processor until rather finely chopped. Add the butter and process until smooth. 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.)
- 3. 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 is chilled for more than an hour, it may be tricky to roll out. If that’s the case, let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes and then try, try again.) 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.
- 4. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
- 5. 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. 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
- 6. 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.
- 7. Adjust the oven temperature to 400°F (204°C).
- 8. Fill the tart shell with the chilled lemon cream. Spoon the meringue on top of the lemon cream, using a spatula to completely cover the curd with the meringue, making certain to cover the edge of the tart where the cream 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.
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. I made one big tart this time, but can imagine doing little personal tarts, too. The whole process of making this tart is straightforward and the times throughout the recipe are pretty accurate. I had one minor problem with the lemon curd. Though I followed the instructions to heat it to 175°F and chilled it overnight, it 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.
This is an outstanding 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 curd and keep that 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 ahhs when dessert hits the table?
The taste of the tart is absolutely delicious, but no more delicious than the lemon meringue pies of my childhood, which I believe were much simpler to construct. My lemon curd took 15 minutes to reach the consistency of hollandaise. I refrigerated the tart dough overnight, and it was very hard to roll out the next day (I never did get the center thin enough though the shell was forgiving and delicious and tender anyway). If I was to make this again or wanted to use the dough recipe for another tart, I wouldn’t refrigerate it for more than an hour. I don’t think there’s any reason to do the meringue at the last minute, and I think smoothing flat is unnecessary. I had a piece of the tart for breakfast this morning (in my opinion, this is the best time to eat pies and tarts because your taste buds haven’t been sullied by a big meal); the tart was just as good as yesterday—maybe even better.