Perfect Lemon Meringue Tart
Shortbread Cookie Crust
- 2 3/4 cups shortbread cookies abt 10 medium cookies
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 Limoneira lemon zest only
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large Limoneira lemons zest & juice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 large egg whites room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Shortbread Cookie Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Have a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom ready to use.
- Add the sugar to a bowl along with the lemon zest. Use the back of a spoon to work the two together – you can also use your clean fingers to ensure they’re well blended.
- Crush the shortbread cookies. You can use a food processor with a steel blade, or place them in a bag a simply crush them with a rolling pin or mallet. Aim for a fine and even texture.
- Add them to the bowl with the sugar and lemon zest, and mix together.
- Melt the butter, and mix into the cookie combination until well blended and it forms an evenly textured dough.
- Press it into the tart pan, across the bottom and up the sides evenly. You can use the bottom of a glass to press more firmly.
- Bake for about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool before filling.
- Alternatively, you can create a no-bake crust by refrigerating for 1 to 2 hours, until entirely firm.
- Let the pie crust cool (or refrigerate) as you make the filling and meringue.
- Measure the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a saucepan, and whisk lightly to blend.
- Stir in the lemon juice, zest, and water, beating well to combine.
- In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks, until bright yellow and creamy.
- Turn the burner under the saucepan to a medium low heat as you stir continuously until it begins to bubble. As it comes to a boil, it should have thickened quite a bit by this point.
- Take the saucepan off the heat briefly, and add a third to half of the lemon mixture to the egg yolks as you beat constantly.
- Now, pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan as you stir.
- Place the saucepan back on the heat, and continue to simmer for another minute or two as you stir the thickening lemon filling, scraping it from the sides.
- Remove from the heat for good.
- Cut the butter into small pieces, and stir it into the lemon filling until fully incorporated.
- Transfer directly into the tart crust, smoothing the top of the lemon filling with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
- Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the entire top surface of the lemon filling.
- Place the egg whites in a bowl, or a stand mixer.
- Begin to beat, until soft peaks form (i.e. they form but then fall back down). Beat in the cream of tartar and salt.
- Gradually stir in the sugar, little by little.
- Add the vanilla last, and continue to beat until stiff peaks begin to form (i.e. the peaks stand on their own).
Assemble the Tart
- Carefully take the plastic wrap off the lemon filling, and add the meringue in mounds on top. Be sure to cover the entire surface of the pie, even if you are creating a pattern, or swirling the meringue.
- You can use a kitchen torch to brown the tips of the meringue, or place under the broiler – but only for 1 or 2 minutes at most.
- Refrigerate for about 4 hours before serving to ensure that the filling and meringue are completely set.