Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield:

    8

    ( 4 Inch ) Tarts

Appears in

Matt made these tarts on The Martha Stewart Show, and they have been a best seller ever since. The light almond-flavored crust, tangy lemon curd, and marshmallowy meringue marry perfectly, and the tarts can be served for almost any occasion. Do not be afraid of the many steps involved, as they are quite easy to follow, and you can break up the recipe into two days: Make the tart dough and the lemon curd on day one, and bake the tarts and make the meringue on day two.

Ingredients

For the Almond Amaretto Tart Shells

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • cup finely ground blanched sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground amaretti cookies
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • cup plus
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur

For the Lemon Curd

  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 large egg yolks (reserve the whites for the topping)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, softened

For the Amaretto Meringue Topping

  • 7 large egg whites
  • cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon plus
  • 1 teaspoon amaretto liqueur

Method

Make the Almond Amaretto Tart Shells

In a small mixing bowl, stir the flour, almonds, and cookies together.

Put the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour the confectioners’ sugar over the butter and, using your hands, toss to make sure each piece of butter is fully coated. Beat on medium speed until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg yolk. Beat until combined. With the mixer on low to medium, very slowly pour in the flour mixture, mixing until combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the cream and liqueur and mix until combined.

Using your hands, form the dough into a ball (it will be sticky), wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Unwrap the ball of chilled dough and put it directly on the work surface. Cut the dough into eight equal pieces, about 2 ounces each, and gently shape each piece into a smooth disk. The dough will be sticky. Make sure to turn the dough over (use a spatula or a bench knife) as needed and keep the work surface floured. Put the dough disks in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a 6-inch round just over ⅛ inch thick. Place a round over a 4-inch tart pan and very gently press the dough into the pan. Roll the rolling pin over the pan to trim off excess dough. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds. Use any excess dough trimmings to make a ninth tart shell, or freeze them for another time. Put the tart pans in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the tarts from the refrigerator, then arrange on a baking sheet and gently prick the dough with a fork.

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.

Transfer the tart pans to wire racks and let cool completely.

Make the Lemon Curd

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and zest and let sit for about 10 minutes to soften the lemon zest.

In a medium nonreactive bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together until combined. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk until just combined.

Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water but do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture has thickened to a puddinglike consistency, about 6 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the pan and whisk in the butter until emulsified. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside at room temperature while you make the meringue.

Make the Amaretto Meringue Topping

Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in a nonreactive metal bowl until combined.

Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture registers 140 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the pan and, with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form, adding the cream of tartar when the mixture begins to thicken or after 3 minutes. When the mixture almost holds stiff peaks, after about 6 minutes, add the liqueur and beat to incorporate it.

Assemble the Tarts

Divide the warm lemon curd evenly among the tarts. Use a large ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop mounds of meringue on top of the lemon curd. Spread the meringue out toward the edges of the tart. Add more meringue to your liking (you will have extra, which you can use to make meringue cookies).

Preheat the broiler to high. Slide the tarts under the broiler and cook until just brown.

If using, sprinkle the crushed cookies on top of the meringue and serve.

These tarts should be eaten within 24 hours. If you are making them for dinner, prepare them in the morning and leave them at room temperature until ready to serve.

To Assemble the Tarts

Crushed amaretti cookies, optional