Lemon Meringue! My favorite thing in the world. Well, close anyway. As you all know, lemons are probably my favorite fruit, definitely my favorite citrus. As a kid, lemon meringue was the only thing my dad wanted as a birthday “cake” so that was what my mom made. When I got older and moved to France, lemon meringue tarts were in every patisserie which made it hard not to buy every one.
I love making little tarts – individual pies! I use these little tart pans I think I got at a garage sale. I don’t remember exactly, but they’ve served me well over the years. If you wanted to go really mini, you could use muffin tins too. Here’s my take on this classic tart!
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 slightly-rounded cup flour
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 lemon, zested
2 lemons, juiced (approx. 1/2 cup)
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat the oven to 410º F. In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.
2. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.
3. When done, remove the bowl from oven (the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
4. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it with a spatula.
5. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.
6. Prick the dough with a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
7. Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them.
8. Let the shell cool before filling.
For the best meringue, use only glass, stainless steel, or copper bowl. In medium bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat. Spoon onto hot pie filling. Spread over filling, carefully sealing meringue to edge of crust to prevent shrinking or weeping.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In small bowl, beat egg yolks with fork. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute or until thick.
Immediately stir at least half of hot mixture into egg yolks; stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Stir in lemon peel and lemon juice. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. Pour into pie crust.
Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until meringue is light brown. Cool away from draft 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate cooled pie until serving. Store in refrigerator.