[Fanny, your lemon meringue tart is sublime, Aïda said – Best lemon meringue tart in the entire world]

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No need to be from France to know that, here, people rave about la tarte au citron meringuée. A sweet and crisp crust covered with the most luscious and so pleasantly tangy lemon cream, which is topped with a smooth and marshmallow-like meringue.
The description might sound heavenly, but I have to confess that lemon meringue tart clearly isn’t a favourite on my list (oh well, at least until I made this one). My sister, on the other end, must be French-er than I am because to her la tarte au citron meringuée simply equals perfection (ok, this and les plaisirs sucrés). If I’d listen to her, I would be making one tart every single day of the week and this, all year long.
I can so picture her, biting into a generous slice, closing her gorgeous eyes and enjoying – what she calls la meilleure chose au monde entier.

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While it’s generally not my thing to make pastries I don’t actually like, here, I had to. Honestly. Aïda had been asking for a lemon meringue tart for years, yet, I had never made one.
Picking the recipe was a matter of seconds. Pierre Hermé, again? Well, I have to admit – not without shame – that I love his genuine pastries more than ever, and that if there was just me, I would be making Pierre Hermé’s recipes only. Somehow, foodbeam would no longer be called foodbeam, more like pierrebeam and well, to be honest, it doesn’t sound half as good. Therefore, I might as well stick to my original plans, which were to cook from as many of my cookbooks as possible. Meanwhile (read: as long as Pierre Hermé cookbooks will sit on my shelves), you’ll have to bear with me and my addiction (read: making Pierre Hermé’s gorgeous pastries).

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Meilleure tarte au citron meringuée du monde entier
Adapted from Pierre Hermé and Dorie Greenspan’s recipes

This tart simply is the best ever, no less.
The pâte sucrée crust is exactly perfect: buttery, crisp and fragrant with a hint of vanilla. The lemon cream, despite containing 300g butter and 200g sugar doesn’t feel heavy; it’s more like a fluffy and very aromatic and tangy cream. My favourite part is the meringue; which is a melt-in-your-mouth pillow of goodness.

I won’t lie to you: this tart is time-consuming. However, it is totally worth it. Just one bite will instantly reward you.

Meilleure tarte au citron meringuée du monde entier

makes one 20cm tart & four 8cm tartlets

one baked 20cm and four 8cm tart crusts

for the lemon cream
200 sugar
finely grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
130ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
300g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into big chunks

for the Italian meringue
2 egg whites
35g caster suga
5g dehydrated egg whites (optional)
50g water
150g sugar

First thing: fill the sink with 3-4cm of cold water.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl (I use the bowl of my kitchenaid stand mixer) that can be set over a pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and start stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 85°C, stirring constantly – be prepared, as it can take quite a lot of time.
As soon as it reaches 85°C, remove the cream from the heat and place the bowl into the sink and allow to cool down to 60°C. Gradually incorporate the butter, whisking after each addition (at this point, I like to use my kitchenaid fitted with the whisk, hence the use of the kitchenaid bowl…).

When all the butter as been used, blend the cream with a hand-held blender for 8 minutes. It might sound long, but will ensure a too-smooth-to-be-true lemon cream.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of cling film against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate overnight.

The next day (or later, as the cream can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days), whisk the cream to loosen it and pipe it into the tart shell and refrigerate for at least an hour before starting with the meringue.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt at slow speed until the foam throughout, add the sugar, gradually increase the speed to fast, and beat to soft peaks. Turn the machine to slow as you complete the sugar syrup.
Bring the sugar and water to 115°C.
Beating the egg whites at moderate speed, pour the boiling syrup into them. Increase the speed to high, and beat until the bowl is no longer hot (it should still feel slightly warm). Pipe the meringue onto the lemon cream and caramelise using a blow torch.