I might eat fancy desserts when I'm at a restaurant, but when I'm at home I like to eat the classics. While a classic French tarte au citron is garnished with a light dusting of powdered sugar. I prefer to caramelize the sugar with a kitchen torch. The crispy sugary crust lends a contrast to the creamy custard filling. If you're in the mood for a little American nostalgia, try piping a billowy meringue over the tart. The beauty in this recipe is in that its really two recipes in one, a lemon meringue tart and a tart au citron! Which one to pick?
Technique tips: When making tarts or pies, the goal is to ensure your crust is delicate and flaky, and this is achieved by handling the dough as little as possible and using only a small amount of liquid. For pie or tart dough, you only want to gently mix it just until the dough begins to clump together; once this happens, just gently shape it into a disc, then chill it and roll it out once cold. This traps all the bits of butter that impart the flaky texture of your crust.
To ensure a creamy filling, don't over bake the tart. Once the edges of the filling are just set and center jiggles slightly, remove the tart from the oven. The filling will continue to gently cook and thicken up even more once it is out of the oven.
The tart dough can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. The tart shell can be lined with the dough and frozen up to 2 days before baking, tightly wrapped. The tart is best eaten within a few hours of assembling.
Swap options: You can bake this in a springform pan to get straight sides. You can replace the lime with more lemon. You can replace the meringue topping with a "brûléed" topping. To do so, just sift about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar over chilled tart filling. Using kitchen torch, heat sugar until it caramelizes. Let sugar cool to form crispy crust and serve.
Special equipment: 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom and a kitchen torch.
For the dough:1.
Into large bowl, sift flour and powdered sugar. Using pastry blender or your fingers, work butter into flour until mixture resembles a coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.2.
Make well in center of flour mixture and add 2 tbs of beaten egg and vanilla to well. Blend mixture for 1 minute, or until dough just comes together.3.
Shape dough into a disc. Wrap disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until dough is firm.4.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 F. Generously brush 9-inch round tart pan with removable bottom with softened butter.5.
Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Starting from center of disc and rolling toward edge, roll out dough, rotating it until dough is about 1/8-inch thick. Trim dough into a 12-inch circle. Place dough sheet on baking sheet and freeze for 5 minutes, or until firm.6.
Remove sheet of dough from parchment paper and drape it over tart pan. Gently lift and coax dough into pan. Lightly press dough into bottom corners and sides of pan, ensuring there is about a 1/2-inch overhang. Place pan on baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes.7.
Line frozen crust with parchment paper and fill with enough dried beans to cover bottom and sides of crust. Bake crust for 10 minutes, or until any visible dough is slightly cooked. Remove parchment paper and beans. Using a sharp knife, trim overhang. Bake an additional 12-15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown throughout.
For the filling:1.
In large bowl, whisk sugar and zests for 30 seconds, or until sugar is moist and fragrant.2.
In small saucepan, bring cream, sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and 1/3 cup lime juice to a simmer over medium heat. Place eggs and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in large bowl. Slowly pour hot cream mixture over eggs, while continuously whisking, until blended. Pour mixture through fine mesh sieve and into large bowl. Remove any froth from top of mixture.3.
Reduce oven temperature to 250 F. Pour hot filling into hot tart crust. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until edges are just set and center jiggles slightly.4.
Let tart rest on a wire rack at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Once cool, transfer tart to large sheet pan and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until filling is slightly firm to touch.
For the topping:1.
In large bowl placed over simmering water, whisk egg whites and sugar constantly for 8 minutes, or until egg white mixture is frothy and sugar granules have dissolved, or until temperature has reached 160 F.2.
Transfer meringue to bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip on medium speed for 6 minutes or until meringue holds stiff, glossy peaks.3.
Using large spoon, dollop meringue onto tart and spread meringue decoratively. Using kitchen torch, wave torch flame over meringue until meringue is lightly browned.4.
Garnish tart with fresh lime zest and raspberries and serve.