Living where I do, winters are long. By February I am pining away for spring, pouring over my garden photos from last season and thinking about all the beautiful, warm places in the world and how to possibly escape to one of them. Some years bring more challenges than others, and this particular winter has shaped up to be one of the more challenging ones, so imagine my delight when on a frigid, snowy day, the mail carrier delivered a box to my house- I opened it to find it packed with fresh Meyer lemons- picked by a friend from her backyard tree in Healdsburg CA! I simply cannot imagine a better gift than this ray of sunshine delivered, hand-picked to my frozen front door. Worth their weight in gold for sure. Thank you so much Liz and Rich!
So how to make the most of these jewels? First came a Meyer lemon roasted chicken, stuffed with lemons and garlic, (the zest slipped under the skin- yum.) Next, I made a soothing nettle, mint and Meyer lemon tea with my daughter’s home grown stinging nettle, dried from last summer. Then came my favorite Meyer lemon curd, to eat with scones and to bake into tarts, topped with meringue. I preserved the last three lemons in salt with Moroccan spices, so we’ll be breaking into those babies for a tagine in about a month.
Meyer lemons are smaller, sweeter and more orange-colored than standard lemons. They’re tart, and they have a subtle orange flavor- almost a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. They make an amazing curd. One of my favorite curd recipes comes from The Cook’s Atelier, I love that site. Check it out here- The Cook’s Atelier. For the meringue, I usually make Zoë François’ Swiss meringue recipe -which I think is the absolute best. Her site Zoebakes is amazing too, and also has foolproof and delicious curd recipes. check it out.
In all honesty, when I made this particular tart, I was snowed in with ONLY confectioners sugar in the house, so that’s what I used. I also way over beat my meringue, ugh. So overall, not my best meringue effort, but I’m blaming it on the weather. And it still tasted great. But follow the recipe here and yours will be perfect 🙂
- 1 Pâte Sablée recipe (see below)
- 1 Meyer lemon curd recipe (see below)
- 1 Swiss meringue recipe (see below)
- Take the dough out of the fridge and allow to soften a bit. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and roll out into circles to fit tartlet pans. Fit the dough into the tartlet pans and press to cover the bottom and sides evenly. The dough may crumble, just press it into place and flatten with the bottom of a glass. Trim the edge of the tartlets. Freeze the tartlet shells for about 15 minutes.
- Blind bake the tartlet shells. Cover the bottom of the tartlets with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and brush the inside of the tartlet shells with a bit of egg wash (1 egg yolk whisked with a splash of milk).
- Bake for an additional 10 - 12 minutes, until the tartlets are baked through and golden brown. Cool completely on a rack.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F
- To assemble the tarts:
- Spoon the lemon curd into the cooled tartlet shells until filled and smooth evenly. Return to oven and bake the filled tartlets for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- Dollop the meringue on top using a spoon or pipe on in a decorative way using a piping bag. Toast the meringue with a torch if you have one, or pop them in the broiler for a minute or two to brown.
- 3 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups butter, cut into small pieces and softened slightly
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons milk
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter. Using your hands, gently toss to coat the butter in the flour mixture. Scoop the mixture in your hands and gently press the flour mixture and butter between your fingertips until the mixture looks grainy, with some small pieces of butter still visible. Work quickly to ensure the butter stays cold.
- In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and cream. Drizzle over the dough and use a fork to gently toss until incorporated. Continue working the dough, gently squeezing it between your fingertips until it comes together and there is no dry flour visible. Be careful not to overwork the dough. It’s ready as soon as you can squish the dough in one hand and it stays together.
- On a lightly floured and cool work surface, preferably marble, knead the dough just until it is completely smooth.
- Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight. Pâte sablée can be wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
- Zest of 3 lemons
- 1 1⁄2 cups fresh lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon juice)
- 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 12 tablespoons (1 1⁄2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- Make the lemon curd: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and egg yolks. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously in a figure-eight motion with a wooden spoon, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of the spoon, 7 to 8 minutes. It’s important to watch it carefully.
- Once it thickens, it needs to be removed from the heat quickly, or the eggs could curdle. Strain the lemon curd through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. This is a very important step, as it removes any impurities and ensures that the texture stays smooth and silky. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and stir until completely incorporated. Add the salt and stir to incorporate.
- The curd should appear shiny and glossy. (If making the curd ahead, press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)
- 2 cups egg whites
- 4 cups (450g) sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (make your own)
- Pinch salt
- To make the Swiss Meringue: Bring about an inch of water in a saucepan to a simmer. Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir the egg mixture with a rubber spatula until it is hot and all of the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place the bowl onto the stand mixer, fit with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until very think, glossy and stiff peaks when you lift the beater.