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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lemon Meringue Tart

I've been working on the menu for our party next month. As I mentioned before, I'm doing a dessert tasting. One of the items on the menu is a Lemon Meringue Tart based on a recipe by Ina Garten.

I thought it might be a good idea to test the recipe out before the party since meringues can be tricky. So, last night I stopped by the grocery store and picked up the ingredients.

The results of this test were great. The flavor is delightful and full of lemony goodness. The only drawback in my test was that I had to use my 11-inch tart pan and the recipe calls for a 9-inch. For the filling it didn't seem to matter much, however, I could have used a bit more meringue to mound it up on top more. Still, it worked nicely enough for a test and I know for next month to increase the meringue by half at least.

Since this was a test run, I opted to use a store bought refrigerated crust. However, you can use your favorite flaky pie crust to make it completely homemade.

This is a great spring and summer dessert and sure to impress guests. I didn't even take great pains in piping the meringue and it still turned out beautifully. If you choose to really take some time with it and create nice effects you'll blow your guests away.



So, here's my take on Ina Garten's Lemon Meringue Tart.

Meringue

4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar

Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt with the whisk attachment of your mixer on high speed until frothy. With the mixer still running, slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until the meringue is thick and shiny, about 2 minutes.

Lemon Filling

1/4-pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs
3 extra-large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
1/4 cup finely grated lemon zest (6 to 8 lemons)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1 minute. On low speed, add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, and then add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Don't worry; it will look curdled.

Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until thick, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Whisk briskly when it starts to thicken and cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Don't allow it to boil! It will be 175° F on a thermometer. Pour into a bowl and cool to room temperature.

Assembling the tart:

Prepare your favorite flaky pie crust or use a refrigerated dough. Roll crust onto a tart pan with removable sides. Be careful not to stretch dough as it will spring back when baking and leave your tart misshapen. Press dough into sides of pan then run a rolling pin across the top to cut off the excess dough. Bake crust using directions for the recipe or refrigerated crust you are using be sure to prick bottom of crust with a fork so the steam escapes.

Once crust is baked to a golden brown, allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled fill with lemon filling and spread evenly to sides. Place meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe meringue onto the tart in whatever pattern you like. Make sure to completely cover the filling and pie crust edges with the meringue!

Bake in oven pre-heated to 425° F for about 8 minutes until meringue is browned on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Personally, I like my lemon meringue chilled so I place it in the refrigerator before serving.





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