Thomas Keller's Lemon Meringue Tarts
I love individual desserts, whether they are cupcakes or cookies or these little lemon tarts, because I love having my very own. This dessert is all about contrasts in tastes and texture: the tartness of the creamy filling, the sweetness of the meringue, the crunch of the crust, and the surprise element of a layer cake. Besides adding another textual element, the cake absorbs any moisture the meringue might release and prevents the meringue from sliding. You can use as much or as little meringue as you wish here, high or low.ALLOW AT LEAST 2 DAYS FOR THIS RECIPE! THIS IS ACTUALLY MULTIPLE RECIPES COMBINED.Make the lemon curd 2-3 days before (it can sit in the refrigerator). Make the Pate Sucree the day before (it needs to rest overnight; you can also make in advance and freeze). Make the Madeleine Cake in advance (needs to be frozen). Make the swiss meringue the day you assemble the tarts.*You'll need a candy thermometer, six 3-by-¾-inch tart rings, a pastry bag with a 1-inch plain tip, a 2¾-inch round cutter, a pastry-bag with a ½-inch plain tip, and a propane torch.
- ½ recipe Pate Sucree see separate recipe
- 100 grams egg whites (¼ cup + 2½ tablespoons)
- 200 grams granulated sugar (1 cup)
- Madeleine Cake for Lemon Meringue Tarts see separate recipe
- small batch of Lemon Curd see separate recipe
FOR THE TART SHELL:
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.
- Following the instructions in the Pate Sucree recipe, roll out the dough, line the tart rings, and fill with rice.
- Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 8 minutes, or until the dough is set and no longer sticks to the parchment paper.
- Remove the parchment and rice (store the rice for future use), return the pan to the oven, and bake for another 12 minutes, or until the dough is cooked and golden brown.
- Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.
- Run the tip of a paring knife between the top of the crust and the ring to loosen the crust, then lift of the ring.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over a saucepan of simmering water.
- Whisk until the mixture reaches 160°F, then immediately put the bowl on the mixer, attach the whisk attachment, and whip at medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, until the whites hold stiff peaks and are cool. Transfer to the pastry bag fitted with the 1-inch tip.
- Use the round cutter to cut the frozen madeleine layer into 6 rounds.
- Fill the pastry bag fitted with the ½-inch plain tip with the lemon curd.
- Fill the tart shells with curd to ¼ inch from the rim of the shells (50 grams/¼ cup each).
- Place the cake rounds on top.
- Hold the pastry bag vertically over the center of each cake, about ½ inch from the surface, and pipe the meringue to cover about two-thirds of the surface (20 grams each), then pull the bag up to form a dome with as much additional meringue as you'd like.
- Hold a small offset spatula at the tip of the domed meringue and pull it to the edges of the crust, forming a smooth line from the tip to the outside of the shell.
- Wipe off the spatula and continue around the tart to form a cone shape, then use the spatula to form irregular peaks in the meringue.
- Using the propane torch, brown the top of the meringue.
The tarts are best the same day they are assembled. They can be refrigerated for 4 to 6 hours; remove them from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving. This recipe is from Bouchon Bakery page 152.